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Jp;iP1ir.T ^ AM IL<0> TAT! K IP .LACE 








Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1353. by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of 


John F. Teow, 
Printer & Stereotyper, 
49 Ann-street. 


We need hardly commend to the American public 
this attempt to describe and familiarize the habitual 
dwelling-places of some of the more eminent of our 
Statesmen. In bringing together such particulars as 
we could gather, of the homes of the men to whom 
we owe our own, we feel that we have performed an 
acceptable and not unnecessary service. The genera- 
tion who were too well acquainted with these intimate 
personal circumstances to think of recording them, is 
fast passing away ; and their successors, while acknow- 
ledging a vast debt of gratitude, might still forget to 
preserve and cherish the individual and private me- 
mories of the benefactors of our country and race. 
We therefore present our contribution to the national 
annals with confidence, hoping that in all respects the 
present volume will be found no unworthy or unwel- 
come successor of the "Homes of American Authors." 


publishers' notice. 

Dr. R. W. Griswold having been prevented by ill 
health from contributing an original paper on Mar- 
shall, Ave have availed ourselves, with his kind permis- 
sion, of the sketch which he prepared for the "Prose 
Writers of America." All the other papers in the pre- 
sent volume have been written expressly for it : and 
the best acknowledgments of the publishers are due 
to the several contributors for the zealous interest and 
ability to which these sketches bear witness. 

For several of the original letters which we have 
copied in facsimile, we are indebted to the kindness 
of the Rev. Dr. Sprague of Albany. 

Most of the illustrations in this volume have been 
engraved from original drawings, or daguerreotypes 
taken for the purpose. The frontispiece is somewhat 
of a curiosity, each copy being an original sun-picture 
on paper. The great luminary has here entered into 
direct competition with other artists in the engraving 
business — our readers can judge how well he has suc- 


WASHINGTON Mes. C. M. Kiekland 

FRANKLIN C. F. Beiggs 

JEFFERSON Parke Godwin 

HANCOCK Richard Hildeeth 

JOHN ADAMS Claeence Cook 

PATRICK HENRY Edward W. Johnston 

MADISON Edward W. Johnston 

JAY William S. Thayer 

HAMILTON James C. Carter 

MARSHALL R, W. Griswold, D.D. 

AMES James B. Thayer 


JACKSON Paeke Godwin 

RUFUS KING Charles King, L.L.D. 

CLAY. Hoeace Greeley 

CALHOUN Paeke Godwin 

CLINTON. T. Romeyn Beck, M.D 

STORY Francis Howland. . . . 



Hancock House, Boston : An original Crystallotype or Sun 

PICTURE Frontispiece. 

Birth-place of Henry Clay Title-page. 

Site of Washington's Birth-place 8 

Houdon's Statue of Washington 8 

Chantrey's Statue of Washington 10 

Greenough's Statue of Washington 10 

Residence of the Washington Family 13 

Mount Vernon 16 

Tomb of Washington's Mother 19 

Washington's Head Quarters, Cambridge, 1775 23 

" " " Pearl-street, New- York, 1776. 25 

House No. 1 Broadway, New- York 35 

Washington's Head Quarters, Morristown, N. J., 1779 28 

" « " Chad's Ford, 1777 32 

" " " White Marsh, 1777 33 

" " " Valley Forge, 1777 34 

" " u Tappan, 1778 37 

" " " Rocky Hill, N. J., 1783 45 

Mount Vernon, rear yiew 49 

House of the first Presidential Levee, Cherry-street, New-York. 52 

Washington's Tomb 60 

Old South Church, Boston 69 

Grave of Franklin, Philadelphia 74 

Franklin's monument, Boston 76 



Monticello, Jefferson's residence 79 

Hancock House, Boston, 97 

Residence of the Adams Family, Quincv, Mass 125 

Residence of Patrick Henry, Ya 153 

Old Church at Richmond, Va 164 

Old Court House, Va 178 

Montpelier, Madison's residence 181 

Jay's residence, Bedford, 1ST. Y 199 

Ball Hughes' statue of Hamilton 233 

Hamilton's residence, near Manhattanville, N". Y 243 

Monument to Hamilton, Trinity Church-yard, N". Y 260 

Marshall's nousE at Richmond, Ya 263 


Hermitage, residence of Jackson 341 

Rufus King's nousE, near Jamaica, L. 1 355 

Ashland, residence of Henry Clay 371 

Clay's birth-place 394 

Clinton's residence, Maspeth, L. 1 415 

H. K. Brown's Statue of Clinton 424 

Story's house at Cambridge, Mass 427 

"Wheaton's residence near Copenhagen 449 

jfar-siiniUs nf Irtta. 



Site of Washington':) Birthplace. 



see great men at home is often more pleasant to the 
visitor than advantageous to the hero. Men's lives are 
two-fold, and the life of habit and instinct is not often, on 
superficial view, strictly consistent with the other — the more 
deliberate, intentional and principled one, which taxes only 
the higher powers. Yet, perhaps, if our rules of judgment 
were more humane and more sincere, we should find less dis- 
crepancy than it has been usual to imagine, and what there is 
would be more indulgently accounted for. The most common- 


place man has an inner and an outer life, which, if displayed 
separately, might never be expected to belong to the same 
individual ; and it would be impossible for him to introduce 
his dearest friend into the sanctum, where, as in a spiritual 
laboratory, his words and actions originate and are prepared 
for use. Yet we could accuse him of no hypocrisy on this 
ground. The thing is so because Nature says it should be so, 
and we must be content with her truth and harmony, even if 
they be not ours. So with regard to public and domestic life. 
If we pursue our hero to his home, it should be in a home- 
spirit — a spirit of affection, not of impertinent intrusion or 
ungenerous cavil. If we lift the purple curtains of the tent in 
which our weary knight reposes, when he has laid aside his 
heavy armor and put on his gown of ease, it is not as malicious 
servants may pry into the privacy of their superiors, but as 
friends love to penetrate the charmed circle within which dis- 
guises and defences are not needed, and personal interest may 
properly take the place of distant admiration and respect. 
In no other temper is it lawful, or even decent, to follow the 
great actors on life's stage to their retirement ; and if they be 
benefactors, the greater the shame if we coolly criticize what 
was never meant for any but loving eyes. 

The private life of him who is supereminently the hero of 
every true American heart, is happily sacred from disrespectful 
scrutiny, but less happily closed to the devout approach of 
those who would look upon it with more than filial reverence. 
This is less remarkable than it may at first sight appear to us 
who know his merit. The George Washington of early times 
was a splendid youth, but his modesty was equal to his other 
great qualities, and his neighbors could not be expected to 



foresee the noon of such a morning. And when the first stir- 
ring time was over, and the young soldier settled himself 
quietly at Mount Vernon, as a country gentleman, a member 
of the Virginia House of Burgesses, a vigorous farmer and 
tobacco planter, a churchwarden in two parishes, and a staid 
married man with two step-children, to whom he was an active 
and faithful guardian, no one thought of recording his life and 
doings, any more than those of his brother planters on the 
Potomac, all landed men, deer and fox-hunters and zealous 
fishermen, who visited each other in the hospitable Southern 
fashion, and lived in rustic luxury, very much within them- 
selves. Few, indeed, compared with the longings of our ad- 
miration, are the particulars that have come down to us of 
Washington's Home — the home of his natural affections ; but 
he had many homes of duty, and these the annals of his 
country will ever keep in grateful memory. Through these 
our present design is to trace his career, succinctly and imper- 
fectly indeed, and with the diffidence which a character so 
august naturally inspires. Happily, many deficiencies in our 
sketch will be supplied by the intimate knowledge and the 
inborn reverence of a large proportion of our readers. 

It seems to be a conceded point that ours is not the age of 
reverence, nor our country its home. While the masses were 
nothing and individuals every thing, gods or demigods were 
the natural product of every public emergency and relief. 
Mankind in general, ignorant, and of course indolent, only too 
happy to be spared the labor of thought and the responsibility 
of action, looked up to the great and the fortunate till their 
eyes were dazzled, and they saw characters and exploits 
through a glorious golden mist, which precluded criticism. It 



was easy, then, to be a hero, for a single success or a happy- 
chance sufficed. Altars sprang up in every bye-road, and 
incense fumed without stint or question. 

To-day the case is widely different. We give nothing for 
nothing. Whatever esteem or praise we accord, must be jus- 
tified, inch by inch, by facts tangible and productive, successes 
undimmed by any after failure, and qualities which owe 
nothing to imagination or passion in the observer. No 
aureole is allowed about any head unless it emanate from it. 
Our Apollo must actually have sent the shaft, and to the 
mark, too, or we sneer at the attitude of triumph. If we 
erect a statue, no robe is confessed to be proper drapery but 
the soiled and threadbare one of every-day life and toil. No 
illusion — no poetry ! is the American maxim of our time. 
Bald, staring, naked literality for us ! He is the true philo- 
sopher who can 

Peep and botanize 
Upon his mother's grave 

if the flowers required by science happen to grow there. 

All this may be very wise and knowing, yet as long as the 
machine called man has something within it which is not ex- 
actly a subject for mathematical measurement, there will 
remain some little doubt of the expediency of thus stripping 
life of its poetry, and bringing all that is inspiring to the test 
of line and plummet. Just now, however, there is no hearing 
for any argument on this side. 

What shall we think, then, of a character which, in a 
single half century, has begun, even among us, to wear some- 
thing of a mythical splendor ? What must the man have 

Graenoujb's Statue of Washington 



been, whom an age like this deliberately deifies ? Who but 
Washington has, in any age, secured for himself such a r>lace 
in the universal esteem and reverence of his countrymen, that 
simple description of him is all that can be tolerated, the pub- 
lic sense of his merits being such as makes praise impertinent, 
and blame impious ? 

Washington ! It were almost enough to grace our page 
and our volume with this honored and beloved name. The 
commentary upon it is written in every heart. It is true the 
most anxious curiosity has been able to find but a small part 
of what it would fain know of the first man of all the earth, 
yet no doubt remains as to what he was, in every relation of 
life. The minutiae may not be full, but the outline, in which 
resides the expression, is perfect. It were too curious to in- 
quire how much of Washington would have been lost had the 
rural life of which he was so fond, bounded his field of action. 
Providence made the stage ready for the performer, as the 
performer for the stage. In his public character, he was hot 
the man of the time, but- for the time, bearing in his very 
looks the seal of a grand mission, and seeming, from his sur- 
prising dignity, to have no private domestic side. Greenough's 
marble statue of him, that sits unmoved under all the vicissi- 
tudes of storm and calm, gazing with unwinking eyes at the 
Capitol, is not more impassive or immovable than the Wash- 
ington of our imaginations. Yet we know there must have 
been another side to this grand figure, less grand, perhaps, but 
not less symmetrical, and wonderfully free from those lowering 
discrepancies which bring nearer to our own level all other 
great, conspicuous men. We ought to know more of him ; 
but, besides the other reasons we have alluded to for our 



Eoudon's Statue, 

dearth of intelligence, his was not a writing age on this side 
the water. Doing, not describing, was the business of the 
day. " Our own correspondent" was not born yet ; desperate 
tourists had not yet forced their way into gentlemen's drawing- 
rooms, to steal portraits by pen and pencil, to inquire into 
dates and antecedents, and repay enforced hospitality by hold- 
ing the most sacred personalities up to the comments of the 
curious. It would, indeed, be delightful to possess this kind 
of knowledge ; to ascertain how George Washington of Fair- 



fax appeared to the sturdy country gentlemen, his neighbors ; 
what the "troublesome man" he speaks of in one of his letters 
thought of the rich planter he was annoying ; whether Mr. Payne 
was proud or ashamed when he remembered that he had knock- 
ed down the Father of his Country in a public court-room ; 
what amount of influence, not to say rule, Mrs. Martha Custis, 
with her large fortune, exercised over the Commander-in-chief 
of the armies of the United States. But rarer than all it would 
have been to see Washington himself deal with one of those 
gentry, who should have called at Mount Vernon with a view 
of favoring the world with such particulars. How he treated 
poachers of another sort we know ; he mounted his horse, and 
dashing into the water, rode directly up to the muzzle of a 
loaded musket, which he wrenched from the astounded in- 
truder, and then, drawing the canoe to land, belabored the 
scamp soundly with his riding whip. How he would have 
faced a loaded pen, and received its owner, we can but conjec- 
ture. We have heard an old gentleman, who had lived in the 
neighborhood of Mount Yernon in his boyhood, say that when 
the General found any stranger shooting in his grounds, his 
practice was to take the gun without a word, and, passing 
the barrel through the fence, with one effort of his powerful 
arm, bend it so as to render it useless, returning it afterwards 
very quietly, perhaps observing that his rules were very well 
known. The whole neighborhood, our old friend said, feared 
the General, not because of any caprice or injustice in his 
character, but only for his inflexibility, which must have had 
its own trials on a Southern plantation at that early day. 

Painting and sculpture have done what they could to give 
us an accurate and satisfying idea of the outward appearance 


Chatrtrey's Statue 

of the Father of our Country, and a surpassing dignity has 
been the aim if not the result, of all these efforts. The statue 
by Chantrey, which graces the State House at Boston, is per- 
Hiaps as successful as any in this respect, and white marble is 
of all substances the most appropriate for the purpose. From 
all, collectively, we derive the impression, or something more, 
that in Washington we have one of the few examples on 
record of a complete and splendid union and consent of per- 
sonal and mental qualifications for greatness in the same 



individual ; unsurpassed symmetry and amplitude of mind 
and body for once contributing to the efficiency of a single 
being, to whom, also, opportunities for development and action 
proved no less propitious than nature. In the birth, nurture 
and destiny of this man, so blest in all good gifts, Providence 
seems to have intended the realization of Milton's ideal type 
of glorious manhood : 

A creature who, endued 
With sanctity of reason, might erect 
His stature, and, upright^ with front serene, 
Govern the rest, self-knowing ; and from thence, 
Magnanimous, to correspond with Heaven ; 
But, grateful to acknowledge whence his good 
Descends, thither, with heart and voice and eyes, 
Directed in devotion, to adore 
And worship God supreme, who made him chief 
Of all his works. 

We may the more naturally think this because Washing- 
ton was so little indebted to school learning for his mental 
power. Born in a plain farm-house near the Potomac — a hal- 
lowed spot now marked only by a memorial stone and a clump 
of decaying fig-trees, probably coeval with the dwelling ; 
none but the simplest elements of knowledge were within his 
reach, for although his father was a gentleman of large landed 
estate, the country was thinly settled and means of education 
were few. To these he applied himself with a force and 
steadiness even then remarkable, though with no view more 
ambitious than to prepare himself for the agricultural pursuits 
to which he was destined, by a widowed mother, eminent for 
common sense and high integrity. His mother, characteris- 



tically enough, for she was much more practical than imagin- 
ative, always spoke of him as a docile and diligent boy, pas- 
sionately fond of athletic exercises, rather than as a brilliant 
or ambitious one. In after years, when La Fayette was re- 
counting to her, in florid phrase, but with the generous 
enthusiasm which did him so much honor, the glorious services 
and successes of her son, she replied — " I am not surprised ; 
George was always a good boy ! " and this simple phrase from 
a mother who never uttered a superfluous word, throws a clear 
light on his early history. Then we have, besides, remnants 
of his school-exercises in arithmetic and geometry, beautiful in 
neatness, accuracy and method. At thirteen his mathemati- 
cal turn had begun to discover itself, and the precision and 
elegance of his handwriting were already remarkable. His 
precocious wisdom would seem at that early age to have cast 
its horoscope, for we have thirty pages of forms for the trans- 
action of important business, all copied out beautifully ; and 
joined to this direct preparation for his future career are 
" Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and 
Conversation," to the number of one hundred and ten, all 
pointing distinctly at self-control and respect for the rights of 
others, rather than at a Chest erfleldian polish or policy, and 
these he learned so well that he practised them unfailingly all 
his life after. A farm in Stafford County on the Rappahannoc, 
where his father had lived for several years before his death, 
was his share of the paternal estate, and on this he lived with 
his mother, till he had completed his sixteenth year. He de- 
sired to enter the British Navy, as a path to honorable distinc- 
tion, and one of his half brothers, many years older than him- 
self, had succeeded in obtaining a warrant for him ; but the 



Residence of the Washington Family. 

mother's reluctance to part with her eldest boy induced him to 
relinquish this advantage, and to embrace instead the laborious 
and trying life of a surveyor, in those rude, early days of 
Virginia exposed to extraordinary hazards. Upon this he 
entered immediately, accepting employment offered him by 
Lord Fairfax, who had come from England to ascertain the 
value of an immense tract of land which he had inherited, ly- 
ing between the Potomac and Kappahannoc rivers, and extend- 
ing beyond the Alleghanies. The surveying party was accom- 
panied by William Fairfax, a distant relative of his lordship, 
but the boy of sixteen was evidently the most important 
member of the party. When the hardships of this undertak- 
ing became too exhausting, he returned to the more settled 
regions, and employed himself in laying out private tracts and 
farms, but he spent the greater part of three years in the 


wilderness, learning the value of lands, becoming acquainted 
with the habits and character of the wild Indian tribes, then 
so troublesome in the forests, and fitting himself by labor, 
study, the endurance of personal hardships and the exercise 
of vigilance and systematic effort, for the arduous path before 

At nineteen Washington had made so favorable an im- 
pression that he was appointed, by the government of Virginia, 
Adjutant-General with the rank of Major, and charged with 
the duty of assembling and exercising the militia, in prepara- 
tion for expected or present difficulties on the frontier. He 
had always shown a turn for military affairs, beginning with 
his school-days, when his favorite play was drilling troops of 
boys, he himself always taking command ; and noticeable 
again in his early manhood, when he studied tactics, and 
learned the manual exercise and the use of the sword. It 
was not long before the talent tnus cultivated was called into 
action. Governor Dinwiddie sent Major Washington as com- 
missioner to confer with the officer commanding the French 
forces, making the delicate inquiry by what authority he pre- 
sumed to invade the dominions of his Majesty King George 
III., and what were his designs. A winter journey of seven 
hundred and fifty miles, at least half of wlrich lay through an 
unbroken wilderness, haunted by wild beasts, and more for- 
midable savages, was the first duty of the youthful Major 
under this commission, and it occupied six weeks, marked by 
many hardships and some adventures. The famous one of 
the raft on a half-frozen river, in which Washington narrowly 
escaped drowning, and the other of a malcontent Indian's 
firing on him, occurred during this journey ; but he reached 



the French post in safety, and had an amicable, though not 
very satisfactory conference, with the Sieur St. Pierre, a cour- 
teous gentleman, but a wily old soldier. Governor Dinwiddie 
caused Major Washington's account of the expedition to be 
published, and when a little army was formed for the protec- 
tion of the frontier, Washington received a command, with the 
rank of Colonel, at twenty-two years of age. Advancing at 
once into the wilderness, he encountered a French detach- 
ment, which he took prisoners, with their commander, and so 
proceeded during the remainder of the season, with general 
success. The next year, serving as a volunteer, it was his 
painful lot, when just recovering from a severe illness, to wit- 
ness Braddock's defeat, a misfortune which, it is unanimously 
conceded, might have been avoided, if General Braddock had 
not been too proud to take his young friend's prudent counsel. 
All that an almost frantic bravery could do to retrieve the 
fortunes of this disastrous day, Washington, whom we are 
in the habit of thinking immovable, and who was at this 
time weak from the effects of fever, is reported to have done ; 
and the fact that he had two horses shot under him, and his 
coat well riddled with rifle balls, shows how unsj)armgly he 
exposed himself to the enemy's sharp-shooters. A spectator 
says — " I saw him take hold of a brass field-piece as if it had 
been a stick. He looked like a fury ; he tore the sheet lead 
from the touch-hole ; he pulled with this and pushed with 
that ; and wheeled it round as if it had been nothing. The 
powder-monkey rushed up with the fire, and then the cannon 
began to bark, and the Indians came down." Nothing but 
defeat and disgrace was the result of this unhappy encounter, 
except to Washington, who in that instance, as in so many 


others, stood out, individual and conspicuous, by qualities so 
much in advance of those of all the men with whom he acted, 
that no misfortune or disaster ever caused him to be con- 
founded with them, or included in the most hasty general 
censure. It is most instructive as well as interesting to 
observe that his mind, never considered brilliant, was yet 
recognized from the beginning as almost infallible in its 
judgments, a tower of strength for the weak, a terror to the 
selfish and dishonest. The uneasiness of Governor Dinwiddie 
under Washington's superiority is accounted for only by the 
fact that that superiority was unquestionable. 



After Braddock's defeat, Washington retired to Mount Ver- 
non, — which had fallen to him by the will of his half-brother 
Lawrence — to recruit in mind and body, after a wasting fever 
and the distressing scenes he had been forced to witness. 
The country rang with his praises, and even the pulpit could 
not withhold its tribute. The Keverend Samuel Davies 
hardly deserves the reputation of a prophet for saying, in the 
course of a eulogy on the bravery of the Virginian troops, — 
"As a remarkable instance of this, I may point out that 
heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope 
Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for 
some important service to his country." 

When another army was to be raised for frontier service, 
the command was given to Washington, who stipulated for a 
voice in choosing his officers, a better system of military regu- 
lations, more promptness in paying the troops, and a thorough 
reform in the system of procuring supplies. All these were 
granted, with the addition of an aid-de-camp and secretary, to 
the young colonel of twenty-three. But he nevertheless had 
to encounter the evils of insubordination, inactivity, perverse- 
ness and disunion among the troops, with the further vexation 
of deficient support on the part of the government, while the 
terrors and real dangers and sufferings of the inhabitants of 
the outer settlements wrung his heart with anguish. In one 
of his many expostulatory letters to the timid and time-serving 
Governor Dinwiddie, his feelings burst their usual guarded 
bounds : "I am too little acquainted, sir, with pathetic lan- 
guage, to attempt a description of the people's distresses ; but 
I have a generous soul, sensible of wrongs and swelling for 
redress. But what can I do ? I see their situation, know 



their danger and participate in their sufferings, without having 
it in my power to give them further relief than uncertain 
promises. In short, I see inevitable destruction in so clear a 
light, that unless vigorous measures are taken by the Assem- 
bly, and speedy assistance sent from below, the poor inhabit- 
ants that are now in forts must unavoidably fall, while the 
remainder are flying before a barbarous foe. In fine, the 
melancholy situation of the people, the little prospect of 
assistance, the gross and scandalous abuse cast upon the 
officers in general, which reflects upon me in particular for 
suffering misconduct of such extraordinary kinds, and the 
distant prospect, if any, of gaining honor and reputation in 
the service, cause me to lament the hour that gave me a 
commission, and would induce me, at any other time than 
this of imminent danger, to resign, without one hesitating 
moment, a command from which I never expect to reap either 
honor or benefit ; but, on the contrary, have almost an abso- 
lute certainty of incurring displeasure below, while the murder 
of helpless families may be laid to my account here. The 
supplicating tears of the women and moving petitions of the 
men melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, 
if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice 
to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to 
the people's ease." 

This extract is given as being very characteristic ; full 
of that fire whose volcanic intensity was so carefully covered 
under the snow of caution in after life ; and also as a specimen 
of Washington's style of writing, clear, earnest, command- 
ing and business-like, but deficient in all express graces, and 
valuable rather for substance than form. We see in his gen- 



eral tone of expression something of that resolute mother, 
who, when her son, already the first man in public estimation, 
urged her to make Mount Vernon her home for the rest of 

Tomb of Washington's Mother. 

her days, tersely replied — " I thank you for your affectionate 
and dutiful offers, but my wants are few in this world, and I 


feel perfectly competent to take care of myself." Directness 
is the leading trait in the style of both mother and son ; if 
either used circumlocution, it was rather through deliberate- 
ness than for diplomacy. Indeed, the alleged indebtedness of 
great sons to strong mothers, can hardly find a more promi- 
nent support than in this case. What a Koman pair they 
were ! If her heart failed her a little, sometimes, as what 
mother's heart must not, in view of toils, sacrifices, and clan- 
gers like his ; if she argued towards the softer side, how he 
answered her, appealing to her stronger self : 

Mount Vernon, 14th Aug., 1755. 

" Honored Madam, 

" If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I 
shall ; but if the command is passed upon me by the general 
voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot 
be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to 
refuse it ; and that, I am sure, must, or ought to, give you 
greater uneasiness than my going in an honorable command. 
Upon no other terms will I accept of it. At present I have 
no proposals made to me, nor have I advice of such an inten- 
tion, except from private hands. 

" I am, &c." 

When the object for which he had undertaken the cam- 
paign — viz. : the undisturbed possession of the Ohio Kiver — 
was accomplished, Washington resigned his commission, after 
five years of active and severe service, his health much broken 
and his private affairs not a little disordered. The resignation 
took effect in December, 1758, and in January, 1759, he was 
married, and, as he supposed, finally settled at Mount Vernon 



— or, as he expresses it in his quiet way — " Fixed at this seat, 
with an agreeable partner for life, I hope to find more happi- 
ness in retirement than I ever experienced amidst the wide 
and bustling world." And in liberal and elegant improve- 
ments, and the exercise of a generous hospitality, the young 
couple spent the following fifteen years ; the husband attend- 
ing to his duties as citizen and planter, with ample time and 
inclination for fox-hunting and duck-shooting, and the wife, a 
kind, comely, thrifty dame, looking well to the ways of her 
household, superintending fifteen domestic spinning-wheels, 
and presiding at a bountiful table, to the great satisfaction of 
her husband and his numerous guests. When the spirit of 
the people began to rise against the exactions of the mother 
country, Washington was among the foremost to sympathize 
with the feeling of indignation, and the desire to resist, peacea- 
bly, if possible, forcibly if necessary. Of this, his letters afford 
ample proof. When armed resistance was threatened, Wash- 
ington was immediately thought of as the Virginia leader. 
When Congress began, in earnest, preparations for defence, 
Washington was chairman of all the committees on the state 
of the country. When the very delicate business of appointing 
a commander-in-chief of the American armies was under con- 
sideration, Washington was the man whose name was on every 
tongue, and who was unanimously chosen, and that by the 
direct instrumentality of a son of Massachusetts, though that 
noble State, having commenced the struggle, might well have 
claimed the honor of furnishing a leader for it. What gener- 
osity of patriotism there was, in the men of those days, and 
how a common indignation and a common danger seem to 
have raised them above the petty jealousies and heart-burnings 



that so disfigure public doings in time of peace and prosperity i 
How the greatness of the great man blazed forth on this new 
field ! What an attitude he took before the country, when 
he said, on accepting the position, "I beg leave to assure 
the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have 
tempted me to accept this arduous employment, at the expense 
of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any 
profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. 
These, I doubt not they will discharge, and that is all I desire." 
There was a natural, unconscious sovereignty in thus assuming 
to be the judge of what it might be proper to expend, in con- 
cerns the most momentous, extensive, and novel, as well as in 
taking the entire risk, both of payment and of public appro- 
bation, — in a direction in which he had already found the sen- 
sitiveness of the popular mind, — that equals any boldness of 
Napoleon's. We can hardly wonder that, in after times, com- 
mon men instinctively desired and expected to make him a 

The battle of Bunker Hill had taken place in the time that 
intervened between Washington's consent and the receipt of 
his commission, so that he set out for Cambridge, with no 
lingering doubt as to the nature, meaning, or result of the 
service in which he had pledged all. He writes to his 
brother, " I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its 
prospect, and in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found." 
His residence at Cambridge, a fine old mansion, still stands, 
and in worthy occupancy. Here it was that he undertook the 
intolerable duty of organizing a young army, without clothes, 
tents, ammunition, or money, with a rich, bitter and disci- 
plined enemy in sight, and boiling blood on both sides. Here 



it was that General Gage, with whom he had fought, side by 
side, twenty years before, on the Monongahela, so exasperated 
him by insolent replies to his remonstrances against the cruel 

Headquarters, Cambridge 1775. 

treatment of American prisoners, that he gave directions for 
retaliation upon any of the enemy that might fall into Ameri- 
can hands. He was, however, Washington still, even though 
burning with a holy anger ; and, ere the order cquld reach its 
destination, it was countermanded, and a charge given to all 
concerned that the prisoners should be allowed parole, and that 


every other proper indulgence and civility sliotdd be shown 
them. His letters to General Gage are models of that kind of 
writing. In writing to Lord Dartmouth afterwards, the British 
commander, who had been rebuked with such cutting and de- 
served severity, observes with great significance, " The trials 
we have had, show the rebels are not the despicable rabble we 
have supposed them to be." 

Washington was not without a stern kind of wit, on certain 
occasions. When the rock was struck hard, it failed not in 
fire. The jealousy of military domination was so great as to 
cause Mm terrible solicitudes at this time, and a month's en- 
listments brought only five thousand men, while murmurs 
were heard on all sides against poor pay and bad living. 
Thinking of this, at a later day, when a member of the Con- 
vention for forming the Constitution, desired to introduce a 
clause limiting the standing army to five thousand men, 
Washington observed that he should have no objection to such 
a clause, " if it were so amended as to provide that no enemy 
should presume to invade the United States with more than 
three thousand." 

Amid all the discouragements of that heavy time, the reso- 
lution of the commander-in-chief suffered no abatement. " My 
situation is so irksome to me at times," he says after enumera- 
ting his difficulties in a few forcible words, "that if I did not 
consult the public good more' than my own tranquillity, I should 
long ere this have put every thing on the cast of a die." But 
he goes on to say, in a tone more habitual with him — " If 
every man ^as of my mind, the ministers of Great Britain 
should know, in a few words, upon what issue the cause should 
be put. I would not be deceived by artful declarations, nor 



Headquarters, 180 Pearl street, New-York. 1776. 

specious pretences, nor would I be amused by unmeaning prop- 
ositions, but, in open, undisguised and manly terms, proclaim 

The house No. 1 Broadway, opposite the Bowling-green, remained unaltered 
until within a year or two in the shape here presented, in which it had 
become familiar to 

all New-Yorkers. It 
was built by Captain 
Kennedy of the Roy- 
al Navy, in April, 
1765. There Lee, 
Washington, and af- 
terwards Sir Henry 
Clinton, Robertson, 
Carleton, and other 
British officers were 
quartered, and here 
Andre wrote his let- 
ter to Arnold. — Los- 
sing. It was after- 
wards occupied by Aaron Burr. Very recently, this interesting house, which 
in New-York may be termed ancient, has been metamorphosed by the addi- 



our wrongs, and our resolution to be redressed. I would tell 
them that we had borne much, that we had long and ardently 
sought for reconciliation upon honorable terms ; that it had 
been denied us ; that all our attempts after peace had proved 
abortive, and had been grossly misrepresented ; that we had 
done every thing that could be expected from the best of sub- 
jects ; that the spirit of freedom rises too high in us to submit 
to slavery. This I would tell them, not under covert, but in 
words as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness." 

When the British evacuated Boston, Congress voted 
Washington a gold medal, with abundant thanks and praises ; 
and, thus compensated for the cruel anxieties of the winter, 
he proceeded with unwavering courage to New- York, where 
new labors awaited him, and the mortifying defeat at Gowanus, 
turned into almost triumph by the admirable retreat after- 

The movement from New- York city to Harlem Heights 
should have been another glory, and nothing on the part of 
the Commander-in-Chief was wanting to make it such, but a 
panic seized two brigades of militia, who ran away, sans facon, 
causing Washington to lose, for a moment, some portion of 
the power over Ins own emotions for which he is so justly 
celebrated. He dashed in among the flying rout, shouting, 
shaming them, riding exposed within a few yards of the 
enemy ; and, finding this of no avail, drew his sword and 
threatened to " run them through," and cocked and snapped 
his pistol in their faces. But all would not do, and General 
Greene says, in a letter to a friend, " He was so vexed at the 

tion of two or three stories, and it is now reduced to be the "Washington 


infamous conduct of the troops, that he sought death rather 
than life." Washington, the " man of marble," would have 
preferred a thousand deaths to dishonor. 

A new army was now to be raised, the term of the last 
enlistment having expired ; and, to form a just opinion of 
Washington's character and talents, every letter of his, £p 
Congress and others during this period, should be studied. 
Such wisdom, such indignation, such patience, such manly 
firmness, such disappointment ! every thing but despair ; the 
watchfulness, the forethought, the perseverance displayed in 
those letters, give a truer idea of the man than all his battles. 

Take a single passage from one of his letters : — " I am 
wearied almost to death with the retrograde motion of things, 
and I solemnly protest, that a pecuniary reward of twenty 
thousand pounds a year would not induce me to undergo what 
I do ; and after all, perhaps, to lose my character, as it is 
impossible, under such a variety of distressing circumstances, 
to conduct matters agreeably to public expectation, or even 
to the expectation of those who employ me, as they will not 
make proper allowances for the difficulties their own errors 
have occasioned." 

And besides that which came upon him daily, in the 
regular line of duty, the yet more difficult work of bearing up 
the hearts of others, whose threats of abandoning the service 
were the running bass that made worse the din of war. " I 
am sorry to find," writes the Chief to General Schuyler, " that 
both you and General Montgomery incline to quit the ser- 
vice. Let me ask you, sir, what is the time for brave men to 
exert themselves in the cause of liberty and their country, if 
this is not ? God knows there is not a difficulty that you 


both very justly complain of, which I have not in an eminent 
degree experienced, that I am not every day experiencing. 
But we must bear up against them, and make the best of 
mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish." 
In studying the career of Washington, nothing strikes one 
more frequently than that no fame came to him fortuitously, 
not only did he borrow none, usurp none, fall heir to none 
that belonged to others ; he earned every tittle that has ever 
been awarded to him, and evidently contributed very much, 

Headquarters, Morristown, New Jersey, 1779. 

by his secret advice and caution to officers placed in difficult 
positions, to enhance the measure of praise bestowed on his 
companions in arms. 

Dark as these times were, Washington's peculiar merits 
were every day becoming more and more evident ; indeed the 



darkest hours were his opportunities. He might well say, 
after the loss of Fort Washington, which had been held con- 
trary to his judgment, — " No person ever had a greater choice 
of difficulties to contend with than I have ; " yet he carried 
the war into New Jersey with all the resolution and courage 
of a victor. Never without a party, too often a very large 
one, ready to disparage his military skill, and throw doubts 
upon his energy in the conduct of the war, he pursued his 
plans without swerving a hair's breadth to court the popular 
gale, though a natural and honorable love of reputation was 
one of the ruling passions of his soul. It was impossible to 
make the people believe that a series of daring encounters 
would have cost the Commander-in-chief far less than the 
u Fabian policy," so scorned at the time ; but Washington 
saw then, in the very heat of the contest, what the result has 
now made evident enough to all, that England must carry on 
a war on the other side of the globe under an immense disad- 
vantage, and that considering the general spirit of the Ameri- 
can people, the expense to an invading power must be greater 
than even the richest nation on earth could long sustain. 
That the necessity for delay was intensely mortifying to him, 
we have a thousand proofs ; and it was not the least bitter 
drop in his cup, that in order to conceal from the enemy the 
deficiencies occasioned by the delay of Congress to meet his 
most strenuous requisitions, he was obliged to magnify his 
numbers and resources, in a way which could not but increase 
the public doubts of his promptness. No one can read his 
letters, incessant under these circumstances, without an in- 
tense personal sympathy, that almost forgets the warrior and 
the patriot in the man. 


His being invested with what was in reality a military 
dictatorship, did not help to render him more popular, al- 
though he used his power with ,his accustomed moderation, 
conscientiousness and judgment. In this, as in other cases, 
he took the whole responsibility and odium, while he allowed 
others to reap the credit of particular efforts ; giving to every 
man at least his due, and content if the country was served, 
even though he himself seemed to be doing nothing. This 
we gather as much from the letters of others to him as from 
his own writings. 

The celebrated passage of the Delaware, on Christmas-day, 
1776, — so lifelike represented in Leutze's great picture, — 
flashed a cheering light over the prospects of the contest, and 
lifted up the hearts of the desponding, if it did not silence the 
cavils of the disaffected. The intense cold was as discour- 
aging here as the killing heat had been at Growanus. Two 
men were found frozen to death, and the whole army suffered 
terribly ; but the success was splendid, and the enemy's line 
along the Delaware was broken. The British opened their 
eyes veiy wide at this daring deed of the rebel chief, and sent 
the veteran Cornwallis to chastise his insolence. But Wash- 
ington was not waiting for him. He had marched to Prince 
ton, harassing the enemy, and throwing their lines still more 
into confusion. New Jersey was almost completely relieved, 
and the spirits of the country raised to martial pitch before the 
campaign closed. Those who had hastily condemned Wash- 
ington as half a traitor to the cause, now began to call him the 
Saviour of his Country. Success has wondrous power in illum- 
inating merit, that may yet have been transparent without it. 
But even now, when he thought proper to administer to all the 



oath of allegiance to the United States, granting leave to the 
disaffected to retire within the enemy's lines, a new clamor was 
raised against him, as assuming undue and dangerous power. 
It was said there were no " United States," and the Legisla- 
ture of New Jersey censured the order as interfering with 
their prerogative. But Washington made no change. The 
dangers of pretended neutrality had become sufficiently appa- 
rent to him ; and he chose, as he always did, to defer Jiis 
personal popularity' to the safety of the great cause. And 
again he took occasion, though the treatment of General Lee 
was in question, to argue against retaliation of the sufferings 
of prisoners, in a manly letter, which would serve as a text 
in similar cases for all time. 

What a blessing was Lafayette's arrival ! not only to the 
struggling States, but in particular to Washington. The 
spirit of the generous young Frenchman was to the harassed 
chief as cold water to the thirsty soul. No jealousies, no 
fault-finding, no selfish emulation ; but pure, high, uncalcu- 
lating enthusiasm, and a devotion to the character and person 
of Washington that melted the strong man, and opened those 
springs of tenderness which cares and duties had well-nigh 
choked up. It is not difficult to believe that Lafayette had 
even more to do with the success of the war than we are ac- 
customed to think. Whatever kept up the chief's heart up- 
bore the army and the country ; for it is plain that, without 
derogation from the ability or faithfulness of any of the heroic 
contributors to the final triumph, Washington was in a pecu- 
liar manner the life and soul, — the main-spring and the bal- 
ance-wheel, — the spur and the rein, of the whole movement 
and its result. Blessings, then, on Lafayette, the helper and 



consoler of the chosen father of his heart, through so many 
trials ! His name goes down to posterity on the same breath 
that is destined for ever to proclaim the glory of Washington. 

Headquarters, Chad's Ford, 1777. 

Chad's Ford, in Delaware, was the scene of another of 
those disasters which it was Washington's happy fortune to 
turn into benefits. The American army retreated from a 
much superior force, and retreated in such disorder as could 
seem, even to its well-wishers, little better than a flight. But 
when, after encamping at Germantown, it was found that the 
General meant to give battle again, with a barefooted army, 
exhausted by forced marches, in a country which Washington 
himself says, was "to a man, disaffected," dismay itself became 
buoyant, and the opinion spread, not only throughout Amer- 
ica, but even as far as France, that the leader of our armies 



was indeed invincible. A heavy rain and an impenetrable fog 
defeated our brave troops ; the attempt cost a thousand men. 
Washington says, solemnly, " It was a bloody day." Yet the 
Count de Vergennes, on whose impressions of America so 
much depended at that time, told our Commissioners in Paris 
that nothing in the course of our struggle had struck him so 
much as General Washington's venturing to attack the vete- 
ran army of Sir William Howe, with troops raised within the 
year. The leader's glory was never obscured for a moment, to 
the view of those who were so placed as to see it in its true 
light. Providence seems to have determined that the effective 
power of this great instrument should be independent of the 
glitter of victory. 

Headquarters, "White Marsh., 1777 

Encamped at Whitemarsh, fourteen miles from Philadel- 
phia, Washington, with his half-clad and half-fed troops, 
awaited an attack from General Howe, who had marched in 


that direction with twelve thousand effective men. But both 
commanders were wary — the British not choosing to attack 
his adversary on his own ground, and the American not to be 
decoyed from his chosen position to one less favorable. Some 
severe skirmishing was therefore all that ensued, and General 
Howe retreated, rather ingloriously, to Philadelphia. 

Headquarters, Valley Forge, 1777 

This brings us to the terrible winter at Valley Forge, the 
sufferings of which can need no recapitulation for our readers. 
Washington felt them with sufficient keenness, yet his invari- 
able respect for the rights of property extended to that of the 
disaffected, and in no extremity was he willing to resort to 
coercive measures, to remedy evils which distressed his very 
soul, and which he shared with the meanest soldier. His tes- 
timony to the patience and fortitude of the men is emphatic : 
" Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire 
the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that 



they have not been, ere this, excited by their sufferings to a 
general mutiny and dispersion." And while this evil was 
present, and for the time irremediable, he writes to Congress 
on the subject of a suggestion which had been made of a win- 
ter campaign, "I can assure those gentlemen, that it is a 
much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances, 
in a comfortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy 
a cold bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without 
clothes or blankets. However, although they seem to have 
little feeling for the naked and distrest soldiers, I feel super- 
abundantly for them, and from my soul I pity those miseries 
which it is neither in my power to. relieve nor prevent." 

It was during this period of perplexity and ' distress on 
public accounts, that the discovery of secret cabals against 
himself, was added to Washington's burthens. But what- 
ever was personal was never more than secondary with him. 
When the treachery of pretended friends was disclosed, he 
showed none of the warmth which attends his statement of 
the soldiers' grievances. "My enemies take an ungenerous 
advantage of me," he said, " they know the delicacy of my 
situation, and that motives of policy deprive me of the defence 
I might otherwise make against their insidious attacks. They 
know I cannot combat their insinuations, however injurious, 
without disclosing secrets which it is of the utmost moment to 
conceal." * * * " My chief concern arises from an ap- 
prehension of the dangerous consequences which intestine dis- 
sensions may produce to the common cause." 

General Howe made no attempt on the camp during the 
winter, but his foraging parties were watched and often se- 
verely handled by the Americans. When Dr. Franklin, who 


was in Paris, was told that General Howe had taken Phila- 
delphia, " Say rather/' he replied, " that Philadelphia has 
taken General Howe," and the advantage was certainly a 
problematical one. Philadelphia was evacuated by the Bri- 
tish on the 18th of June, 1776, General Clinton having super- 
seded General Howe, who returned to England in the spring. 
Washington followed in the footsteps of the retreating army, 
and, contraiy to the opinion of General Lee, decided to attack 
them. At Monmouth occurred the scene so often cited as 
proving that Washington could lose his temper — a testimony 
to his habitual self-command which no art of praise could en- 
hance. Finding General Lee with his five thousand men in 
full retreat when they should have been rushing on the enemy, 
the commander-in-chief addressed the recreant with words of 
severe reproof, and a look and manner still more cutting. 
Keceiving in return a most insolent reply, Washington pro- 
ceeded, himself, by rapid manoeuvres, to array the troops for 
battle, and when intelligence arrived that the British were 
within fifteen minutes march, he said to General Lee, who 
had followed him, deeply mortified, — " Will you command 
on this ground, or not ?" " It is equal with me where I 
command," was the answer. " Then I expect you to take 
proper measures for checking the enemy," said the General, 
much incensed at the offensive manner of Lee. " Your orders 
shall be obeyed," said that officer, " and I will not be the first 
to leave the field." And his bravery made it evident that an 
uncontrolled temper was the fault for which he afterwards 
suffered so severely. During the action Washington exposed 
himself to every danger, animating and cheering on the men 
under the burning sun ; and when night came, he lay down in 



his cloak at the foot of a tree, hoping for a general action the 
next day. But in the morning Sir Henry Clinton was gone, 
too far for pursuit under such killing heat — the thermometer 
at 96°. Many on both sides had perished without a wound, 
from fatigue and thirst. 


V 7 T^^ffV . ^ ; 

Headquarters. Tappan, 1778. 

The head-quarters at Tappan will always have a sad in- 
terest from the fact that Major Andre*, whose fine private 
qualities have almost made the world forget that he was a 
spy, there met his unhappy fate. That General Washington 
suffered severely under the necessity which obliged him, by 
the rules of war, to sanction the decision of the court-martial 
in this case, we have ample testimony ; and an eye-witness 
still living observed, that when the windows of the town were 
thronged with gazers at the stern procession as it passed, 
those of the commancler-in -chief were entirety closed, and his 
house without sign of life except the two sentinels at the door. 



The revolt of a part of the Pennsylvania line, which oc- 
curred in January, 1781, afforded a new occasion for the exer- 
cise of Washington's pacific wisdom. He had felt the griev- 
ances of the army too warmly to he surprised when any 
portion of it lost patience, and his prudent and humane sug- 
gestions, with the good management of General Wayne, 
proved effectual in averting the great danger which now 
threatened. But when the troops of New Jersey, emboldened 
by this mild treatment, attempted to imitate their Pennsyl- 
vania neighbors, they found Washington prepared, and six 
hundred men in arms ready to crush the revolt by force — a 
catastrophe prevented only by the unconditional submission 
of the mutineers, who were obliged to lay down their arms, 
make concessions to their officers, and promise obedience. 

As we are not giving here a sketch of the Kevolutionary 
War, we pass at once to the siege and surrender at Yorktown, 
an event which shook the country like that heaviest clap of 
thunder, herald of the departing storm. All felt that brighter 
skies were preparing, and the universal joy did not wait tie 
sanction of a deliberate treaty of peace. The great game of 
chess which had been so warily played, on one side at least, 
was now in check, if not closed by a final check-mate ; and peo- 
ple on the winning side were fain to unknit their weary brows, 
and indulge the repose they had earned. Congress and the 
country felt as if the decisive blow had been struck, as if the 
long agony was over. Thanks were lavished on the command- 
ers, on the officers, on the troops. Two stands of the enemy's 
colors were presented to the Commander-in-Chief, and to 
Counts Kochambeau and De Grasse each a piece of British 
field ordnance as a trophy. A commemorative column at 



Yorktown was decreed, to carry down to posterity the events 
of the glorious 17th of October, 1781. There was, in short, a 
kind of wildness in the national joy, showing how deep had 
been the previous despondency. Watchmen woke the citizens 
of Philadelphia at one in the morning, crying "Cornwallis is 
taken!" Sober, Puritan America was almost startled from 
her habitual coolness ; almost forgot the still possible dan- 
ger. The chief alone, on whom had fallen the heaviest stress 
of the long contest, was impelled to new care and forecast by 
the victory. He feared the negligence of triumph, and remind- 
ed the government and the nation that all might yet be lost, 
without vigilance. "I cannot but flatter myself," he says, 
"that the States, rather than relax in their exertions, will be 
stimulated to the most vigorous preparations, for another active, 
glorious, and decisive campaign." And Congress responded 
wisely to the appeal, and called on the States to keep up 
the military establishment, and to complete their several 
quotas of troops at an early day. With his characteristic 
nodesty and courage, Washington wrote to Congress a letter 
of advice on the occasion, of which one sentence may be 
taken as a specimen. "Although we cannot, by the best 
concerted plans, absolutely command success ; although the 
race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong ; 
yet, without presumptuously waiting for miracles to be wrought 
in our favor, it is an indispensable duty, with the deepest gra- 
titude to Heaven for the past, and humble confidence in its 
smiles on our future operations, to make use of all the means 
in our power for our defence and security." 

It was this man, pure, devoted, and indefatigable in the 
cause of his country and her liberties, that some shortsighted 


malcontents, judging his virtue by their own, would now have 
persuaded to finish the struggle for liberty by becoming a king. 
The discontent of the officers and soldiers, with the slowness 
of their pay, had long been a cause of ferment in the army, 
and gave to the hasty and the selfish an excuse for desiring a 
change in the form of government. The king's troops had 
been well fed, well clothed, and well paid, and were sure of 
half-pay after the war should be finished, while the continen- 
tals, suffering real personal destitution, were always in arrear, 
drawing on their private resources, and with no provision what- 
ever for any permanent pecuniary recompense. As to the half- 
pay, Washington had long before expressed his opinion of the 
justice as well as policy of such a provision. "I am ready to 
declare/' he says, " that I do most religiously believe the salva- 
tion of the cause depends upon it, and without it your officers 
will moulder to nothing, or be composed of low and illiterate 
men, void of capacity for this or any other business. * * * * 
Personally, as an officer, I have no interest in the decision ; 
because I have declared, and I now repeat it, that I never will 
receive the smallest benefit from the half-pay establishment." 
But the deep-seated jealousy of the army, which haunted Con- 
gress and the country, like a Banshee, throughout the whole 
course of the war, was too powerful for even Washington's 
representations. All that could be effected was an unsatisfac- 
tory compromise, and some of the officers saw or affected to 
see, in the reluctance of the government to provide properly for 
its defenders, a sign of fatal weakness, which but little recom- 
mended the republican form. Under these circumstances, a 
well written letter was sent to the Commander-in-Chief, pro- 
posing to him the establishment of a " mixed government," in 



which the supreme position was to be given, as of right, to 
the man who had been the instrument of Providence in sav- 
ing the country, in " difficulties apparently insurmountable by 
human power," the dignity to be accompanied with the title 
of king. Of this daring proposition a colonel of good stand- 
ing was made the organ. Washington's reply may be well 
known, but it will bear many repetitions. 

Newburgh, 22 May, 1782. 

■« Sir, 

" With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I 
have read with attention the sentiments you submitted to my 
perusal. Be assured, Sir, no occurrence in the course of the 
war has given me more painful sensations than your informa- 
tion, of there being such ideas existing in the army as you 
have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence, and re- 
prehend with severity. For the present, the communication of 
them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation 
of the matter shall make a disclosure necessary. 

" I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct 
could have given encouragement to an address, which, to me, 
seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my coun- 
try. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you 
could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more 
disagreeable. At the same time, in justice to my own feelings, 
I must add that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see 
ample justice done to the army than I do ; and as far as my 
powers and influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they 
shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, 
should there be any occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if 
you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or 



posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from youi 
mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, 
a sentiment of the like nature. 

"I am, Sir, &c, 

"George Washington." 

This letter is extremely characteristic, not only because it 
declines the glittering bait, for that is hardly worth noticing 
where Washington is in question, but for the cool and quiet 
tone of rebuke, in a case in which most other men would have 
been disposed to be at least dramatically indignant. The per- 
fectly respectful way in which he could show a man that he 
despised him, is remarkable. He does not even admit that 
there has been injustice done to the army, though the fact had 
cost him such loads of anxious and ingenious remonstrance ; 
but only promises to see to it, "should there be any occasion." 
It would have been easier for him, at that very moment, at the 
head of a victorious army, and with the heart of the nation at 
his feet, to make himself a king, than to induce Congress to do 
justice to the troops and their brave officers ; but identifying 
himself with his army, he considered that his own private affair, 
and would accept no offer of partnership, however specious. 
Happily the name of the "very respectable" colonel has never 
been disclosed ; an instance of mercy not the least noticeable 
among the features of this remarkable transaction. 

During the negotiations for peace which so soon followed 
the surrender at Yorktown, the discontent of the army reached 
a height which became alarming. Meetings of officers were 
called, for the purpose of preparing threatening resolutions, 
since called " the Newburgh addresses," to be offered to Con- 



gress. The alternative proposed was a relinquishment of the 
service in a body, if the war continued, or remaining under 
arms, in time of peace, until justice could be obtained from 
Congress. Washington, having timely notice of this danger, 
came forward with his usual decision, wisdom, and kindliness, 
to the rescue of the public interest and peace. While he took 
occasion, in a general order, to censure the disorderly and 
anonymous form proposed, he himself called a meeting of offi- 
cers, taking care to converse in private beforehand with many 
of them, acknowledging the justice of their complaints, but in- 
culcating moderation and an honorable mode of obtaining what 
they desired. It is said that many of the gentlemen were in 
tears when they left the presence of the Commander-in-Chief. 
When they assembled, he addressed them in the most inrpres- 
sive manner, imploring them not to tarnish their hard-won 
laurels, by selfish passion, in a case in which the vital in- 
terests of the country were concerned. He insisted on the good 
faith of Congress, and the certainty that, before the army should 
be disbanded, all claims would be satisfactorily adjusted. 

His remonstrance proved irresistible. The officers, left to 
themselves, — for the General withdrew after he had given utter- 
ance to the advice made so potent by his character and ser- 
vices, — passed resolutions thanking him for his wise interference, 
and expressing their love and respect for him, and their deter- 
mination to abide by his counsel. In this emergency Washing- 
ton may almost have been said to have saved his country a 
second time, but in his letters written at the time he sinks all 
mention of his own paramount share in restoring tranquillity, 
speaking merely of "measures taken to postpone the meeting/' 
and "the good sense of the officers" having terminated the affair 


"in a manner which reflects the greatest glory on themselves." 
His own remonstrances with Congress were immediately renewed, 
setting forth the just claims of those who "had so long, so pa- 
tiently, and so cheerfully, fought under his direction/' so forci- 
bly, that in a very short time all was conceded, and general 
harmony and satisfaction established. 

His military labors thus finished, — for the adjudication of 
the army claims by Congress was almost simultaneous with the 
news of the signing of the treaty at Paris, — "Washington might, 
without impropriety, have given himself up to the private oc- 
cupations and enjoyments so religiously renounced for eight 
years, — the proclamation of peace to the army having been 
made, April 19, 1783, precisely eight years from the day of 
the first bloodshedding at Lexington. But the feelings of a 
father were too strong within him, and his solicitudes brooded 
over the land of his love with that unfailing anxiety for its 
best good which had characterized him from the beginning. 
Yet he modestly observes, in a letter on the subject to Col. 
Hamilton, " How far any further essay by me might be pro- 
ductive of the wishecl-for end, or appear to arrogate more than 
belongs to me, depends so much upon popular opinion, and the 
temper and dispositions of the people, that it is not easy to de- 
cide." He wrote a circular letter to the Governors of the sev- 
eral States, full of wisdom, dignity, and kindness, dwelling 
principally on four great points — an indissoluble union of the 
States ; a sacred regard to public justice ; the adoption of a 
proper military peace establishment ; and a pacific and friendly 
disposition among the people of the States, which should in- 
duce them to forget local prejudices, and incline them to mu- 
tual concessions. This address is masterly in all respects, and 



was felt to be particularly well-timed, the calm and honored 
voice of Washington being at that moment the only one which 
could hope to be heard above the din of party, and amid the 
confusion natural during the first excitement of joy and tri- 

Congress was not too proud to ask the counsel of its brave 
and faithful servant, in making arrangements for peace and set- 
tling the new affairs of the country. Washington was invited 
to Princeton, where Congress was then sitting, and introduced 
into the Chamber, where he was addressed by the President, 
and congratulated on the success of the war, to which he had 
so much contributed. Washington replied with his usual self- 
respect and modesty, and retired. A house had been prepared 
for him at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, where he resided for 

Headquarters. Rocky Hill, N. .1 1783 

some time, holding conference with committees and members, 
and giving counsel on public affairs ; and where he wrote that 


admirable farewell to his army, perhaps as full of his own pe- 
culiar spirit as any of his public papers. His thanks to officers 
and soldiers for their devotion during the war have no perfunc- 
tory coldness in them, but speak the full heart of a brave and 
noble captain, reviewing a most trying period, and recalling with 
warm gratitude the co-operation of those on whom he relied. 
Then, for their future, his cautions and persuasions, the mo- 
tives he urges, and the virtues he recommends, all form a curi- 
ous contrast with those of Napoleon's addresses to his troops. 
"Let it be known and remembered," he says, "that the repu- 
tation of the federal armies is established beyond the reach of 
malevolence ; and let a consciousness of their achievements and 
fame still incite the men who composed them to honorable ac- 
tions ; under the persuasion that the private virtues of econo- 
my, prudence, and industry, will not be less amiable in civil 
life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance and 
enterprise were in the field." Thus consistent to the last he 
honored all the virtues ; showing that while those of the field 
were not misplaced in the farm, those of the farm might well 
be counted among the best friends of the field — his own life of 
planter and soldier forming a glorious commentary on his doc- 

The evacuation of New- York by the British was 'a grand 
affair, General Washington and Governor George Clinton rid- 
ing in at the head of the American troops that came from the 
northward to take possession, while Sir Guy Carleton and his 
legions embarked at the lower end of the city. The immense 
cavalcade of the victors embraced both military and civil au- 
thorities, and was closed by a great throng of citizens. This ab- 
solute finale of the war brought on the Commander-in-Chief 



one of those duties at once sweet and painful — taking leave 
of his companions in arms ; partners in toil and triumph, in 
danger and victory. " I cannot come to each of you to take 
my leave/' he said, as he stood, trembling with emotion, "but 
I shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the 
hand." General Knox, the warm-hearted, stood forward and 
received the first embrace ; then the rest in succession, silently 
and with universal tears. Without another word the General 
walked from the room, passed through lines of soldiery to the 
barge which awaited him, then, turning, waved his hat, and 
bade to friends and comrades a silent, heartfelt adieu, which 
was responded to in the same solemn spirit. All felt that it 
was not the hour nor the man for noisy cheers ; the spirit of 
Washington presided there, as ever, where honorable and high- 
minded men were concerned. 

The journey southward was a triumphal march. Ad- 
dresses, processions, delegations from religious and civil bodies, 
awaited him at every pause. When he reached Philadelphia 
he appeared before Congress to resign his commission, and no 
royal abdication was ever so rich in dignity. All the human 
life that the house would hold came together to hear him, 
and the words, few and simple, wise and kind, that fell from 
the hps of the revered chief, proved worthy to be engraved on 
every heart. In conclusion he said: — "Having now finished 
the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action ; 
and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, un- 
der whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commis- 
sion, and take my leave of all the employments of public life." 
He said afterwards to a friend : — " I feel now as I conceive a 
wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a step 


with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, 
having reached the haven to which all the former were directed, 
and from his house-top is looking back, and tracing with an 
eager eye the meanders by which lie escaped the quicksands 
and mire which lay in his way, and into which none but the 
all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have 
prevented his falling." And to Lafayette, he says : — " I am 
not only retired from all public employments, but I am retir- 
ing within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk, 
and tread the paths of private life with a heartfelt satisfaction. 
Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all ; and 
this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move 
gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers." 

That the public did not anticipate for him the repose and 
retirement he so much desired, we may gather from the in- 
structions sent, at the time he resigned his commission, by the 
State of Pennsylvania, to her representatives in Congress, say- 
ing that " his illustrious actions and virtues render his charac- 
ter so splendid and venerable that it is highly probable the 
world may make his life in a considerable degree public and 
that "his very services to his country may therefore subject 
liim to expenses, unless he permits her gratitude to interpose." 
" We are perfectly acquainted," says the paper, " with the dis- 
interestedness and generosity of his soul. He thinks himself 
amply rewarded for all his labors and cares, by the love and 
prosperity of his fellow-citizens. It is true no rewards they 
can bestow can be equal to his merits, but they ought not to 
suffer those merits to be burdensome to him. * * We are 
aware of the delicacy with which such a subject must be treated. 
But, relying in the good sense of Congress, we wish it may en- 
gage their early attention." 



The delegates, on receipt of these instructions, very wisely 
bethought themselves of submitting the matter to the person 
most concerned before they brought it before Congress, and he, 
as might have been expected, entirely declined the intended 
favor, and put an end to the project altogether. If he could 
have been induced to accept pecuniary compensation, there is 
no doubt a grateful nation would gladly have made it ample. 
But Washington, born to be an example in so many respects, 
had provided against all the dangers and temptations of money, 
by making himself* independent as to his private fortune ; hav- 
ing neglected no opportunity of enlarging it by honorable la- 
bor or judicious management, while he subjected the expenses 
of his family to the strictest scrutiny of economy. 

His first care, on arriving at Mount Vernon, was to ascer- 

Mount Vernon (rear view). 


tain the condition of his private affairs ; his next to make a 
tour of more than six hundred miles through the western coun- 
try, with the double purpose of inspecting some lands of his, 
and of ascertaining the practicability of a communication be- 
tween the head waters of the great rivers flowing east and west 
of the Alleghanies. He travelled entirely on horseback, in 
military style, and kept a minute journal of each day's observa- 
tions, the result of which he communicated, on his return, in a 
letter to the Governor of Virginia, which Mr. Sparks declares to 
be "one of the ablest, most sagacious, and niost important pro- 
ductions of his pen," and "the first suggestion of the great sys- 
tem of internal improvements which has since been pursued in 
the United States." On a previous tour, through the northern 
part of the State of New- York, he had observed the possibility 
of a water communication between the Hudson and the great 
Lakes, and appreciated its advantages, thus foreshowing, at 
that early date, the existence of the Erie Canal. In 1784, 
Washington had a final visit from Lafayette, from whom he 
parted at Annapolis, with manifestations of a deeper tender- 
ness than the weak can even know. Arrived at home, he sat 
down at once to say yet another word to the beloved : " In 
the moment of our separation, upon the road as I travelled, 
and every hour since," (mark the specification from this man 
of exact truth,) " I have felt all that love, resj)ect and attach- 
ment for you, with which length of years, close connection, 
and your merits have inspired me. I often asked myself, as 
our carriages separated, whether that was the last sight I 
should ever have of you ? And though I wished to say No ! 
my fears answered Yes ! " He was right ; they never met 
again, but they loved each other always. Lafayette's letters to 



Washington are lover-like ; they are alone sufficient to show 
how capable of the softest feeling was the great heart to which 
they were addressed. 

Space fails us for even the baldest enumeration of the in- 
stances of care for the public good with which the life of Wash- 
ington abounded, when he fancied himself " in retirement/' for 
we have unconsciously dwelt, with the reverence of affection, 
upon the picture of his character during the Kevolution, and 
felt impelled to illustrate it, where we could, by quotations 
from his own weighty words; weighty, because, to him, words 
were things indeed, and we feel that he never used one thought- 
lessly or untruly. Brevity must now be our chief aim, and we 
pass, at once, over all the labor and anxiety which attended the 
settlement of the Constitution, to mention the election of Wash- 
ington to the Presidency of the States so newly united, by bonds 
which, however willingly assumed, were as yet but ill fitted to 
the wearers. The unaffected reluctance with which he ac- 
cepted the trust appears in every word and action of the time ; 
and it is evident that, as far as selfish feelings went, he was 
much more afraid of losing the honor he had gained than of 
acquiring new. The heart of the nation was with him, how- 
ever, even more than he knew; and the "mind oppressed with 
more anxious and painful sensations " than he had words to 
express at the outset, was soon calmed, not only by the sug- 
gestions of duty, but by the marks of unbounded love and con- 
fidence lavished on him at every step of his way by a grateful 
people. The Inaugural Oath was taken, before an immense 
concourse of people, on the balcony of Federal Hall, New- York, 
April 30, 1789, and the President afterwards delivered his 
first Address, in the Senate Chamber of the same building, 


now no longer standing, but not very satisfactorily replaced by 
that magnificent Grecian temple wherein the United States 
Government collects the Customs of New- York. The house in 
which the first Presidential levee was held will always be a 

House of the First Presidential Levee. Cherry street 

point of interest, and the consultations between Washington 
and the great officers of state about the simple ceremonial of 
these public receptions, are extremely curious, as showing the 
manners and ideas of the times, and the struggle between the 
old-country associations natural to gentlemen of that day, and 
the recognized necessity of accommodating even court regula- 
tions to the feelings of a people to whom the least shadow of 
aristocratic form was necessarily hateful. We must not con- 
demn the popular scrupulousness of 1789 as puerile and foolish, 
until we too have perilled life and fortune in the cause of 
liberty and equality. 



A dangerous illness brought Washington near the grave, 
during his first Presidential summer, and he is said never to 
have regained his full strength. In August Ins mother died, 
venerable for years and wisdom, and always honored by her 
son in a spirit that would have satisfied a Koman matron. 
She maintained her simple habits to the last, and is said never 
to have exhibited surprise or elation, at her son's greatest 
glory, or the highest honors that could be paid him. Her re- 
mains rest under an unfinished monument, near Fredericks- 
burgh, Virginia. 

Of the wife of the illustrious Chief, it is often said that 
little is known, and there is felt almost a spite against her 
memory because she destroyed before her death every letter of 
her husband to herself, save only one, written when he accept- 
ed the post of Commander-in-Chief. But, to our thinking, 
one single letter of hers, written to Mrs. Warren, after the 
President's return from a tour through the eastern States, tells 
the whole story of her character and tastes, a story by no 
means discreditable to the choice of the wisest of mankind. 
Mr. Sparks gives the letter entire, as we would gladly do if it 
were admissible. We must, however, content ourselves with 
a few short extracts : — 

" You know me well enough to believe that I am fond only 
of what comes from the heart. Under a conviction that the 
demonstrations of respect and affection to him originate in that 
source, I cannot deny that I have taken some interest and 
pleasure in them. The difficulties which presented themselves 
to view in his first entering upon the Presidency, seem thus 
to be in some measure surmounted. * * * I had little 
thought, when the war was finished, that any circumstances 


could possibly happen which would call the General into pub- 
lic life again. I had anticipated that from that moment we 
should be suffered to grow old together, in solitude and tran- 
quillity. That was the first and dearest wish of my heart. I 
will not, however, contemplate with too much regret, disap- 
pointments that were inevitable, though his feelings and my 
own were in perfect unison with respect to our predilection for 
private life. Yet I cannot blame him for having acted accord- 
ing to his ideas of duty, in obeying the voice of his country. 
The consciousness of having attempted to do all the good in 
his power, and the pleasure of finding his fellow-citizens so well 
satisfied with the disinterestedness of his conduct, will doubt- 
less be some compensation for the great sacrifice I know he 
has made. * * * With respect to myself, I sometimes think 
the arrangement is not quite as it ought to have been, that I, 
who had much rather be at home, should occupy a place with 
which a great many younger and gayer women would be ex- 
tremely pleased. * * * I am still determined to be cheerful 
and happy, in whatever situation I may be ; for I have learned 
from experience that the greater part of our hajopiness or mis- 
ery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. 
We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us, in 
our minds, wherever we go." The whole letter bespeaks the 
good, kind, dutiful and devoted wife, the loving mother, — 
for she represents her grandchildren as her chief joy, — and the 
sensible, domestic woman. What more can any man ask in 
the partner of his bosom ? She was the best wife possible for 
Washington, and he thought her such, and loved her entirely 
and always. The picture by Stuart shows her, even in the de- 
cline of life, to have been of a delicate and sprightly beauty. 



Another eight years of public duty and public life — two 
presidential terms — were bravely borne by the pair always 
longing for Mount Vernon. The reluctance of Washington to 
the second term of office was even stronger than that which he 
had expressed to the first, but he was overborne by stress of 
voices. " The confidence of the whole Union," writes Jefferson; 
" is centred in you. * * * There is sometimes an eminence of 
character on which society have such peculiar claims, as to con- 
trol the predilection of the individual for a particular walk of 
happiness, and restrain him to that alone arising from the pre- 
sent and future benedictions of mankind. This seems to be 
your condition, and the law imposed on you by Providence in 
forming your character, and fashioning the events on which it 
was to operate." And Hamilton says — "I trust, and I pray 
God, that you will determine to make a further sacrifice of 
your tranquillity and happiness to the public good." And 
such were, throughout, the sentiments of the first men of the 
country, without distinction of politics. Thus urged, he yielded 
once more, even after he had prepared a farewell address to 
the people on his contemplated resignation. 

It was during this second term that Fox spoke of Wash- 
ington before Parliament, concluding thus : — " It must indeed 
create astonishment, that, placed in circumstances so critical, 
and filling for a series of years a station so conspicuous, his 
character should never once have been called in question. * * * 
For him it has been reserved to run the race of glory without 
experiencing the smallest interruption to the brilliancy of his 
career." And Mr. Erskine, writing to Washington himself, 
says : — "I have taken the liberty to introduce your august and 
immortal name in a short sentence which will be found in the 


book I send you.* I have a large acquaintance among the 
most valuable and exalted classes of men ; but you are the 
only human being for whom I ever felt an awful reverence. I 
sincerely pray God to grant a long and serene evening to a life - 
so gloriously devoted to the universal happiness of the world." 

The evening was indeed serene, but it was not destined to 
be long. Two years were spent in domestic and social duty 
and pleasure, the old Virginia hospitality being carried to an 
enormous extent at Mount Vernon, over which General and 
Mrs. Washington presided, with all that good sense, dignity, 
and bonliommie united, which seems now to have characterized 
their home life. Mrs. Washington, content with the greatness 
described by the wise king, looked well to her maidens, and so 
managed the affairs of a large establishment that "the heart 
of her husband could safely trust in her, so that he had no need 
of spoil." Who knows how much the good management of 
his household affairs had to do with Washington's superiority 
to the temptations of gain ? The ladies should see to it that 
they so regulate their habits of expense that their husbands have 
"no need of spoil." The extravagant tastes of Mrs. Arnold, 
amiable woman though she was, are known to have heightened 
her husband's rapacity, and thus added to the incentives which re- 
sulted in treason and just ruin. Mrs. Washington, when she was 
in the highest position in the nation, wore gowns spun under her 
own roof, and always took care, in her conversation with the 
ladies about her, to exalt domestic employments, and represent 
them as belonging to the duty of woman in any station. She 
was supposed to have written a patriotic paper, published in 

* On the causes and consequences of the war with France. 



1780, called " The Sentiments of American Women," but the 
authorship has not been ascertained. The energy and consist- 
ency of her patriotic feeling was, however, perfectly well under- 
stood, and she is said to have borne her part in the conversa- 
tion of the distinguished company at Mount Vernon, with in- 
variable dignity and sweetness. The General had returned 
with unction to his rural and agricultural pursuits, keeping 
up his life-long habit of rising before the sun, and after break- 
fast making the tour of the plantation on horseback. These 
employments were somewhat interrupted by the speck of war 
which troubled our horizon in 1798, on which occasion all eyes 
were turned to him, and his friends and the President called 
upon him once more to give his services to the country. His 
reply was consistent with the tenor of his life, "In case of ac- 
tual invasion by a formidable force, I certainly should not in- 
trench myself under the cover of age and retirement, if my ser- 
vices should be required by my country in repelling it." With- 
out waiting for his reply, the Senate had appointed him to the 
post of Commander-in-Chief, and the Secretary at War was des- 
patched immediately to Mount Vernon with the commission, 
which was at once accepted. This involved Washington once 
more in a press of correspondence and many anxious duties ; 
and his letters during this time show that his mind had lost 
none of its fertility or his judgment of its soundness. He pre- 
dicted at once that France would not invade the United States, 
and the event justified his foresight. But another Enemy lay 
in wait for him, and to this one the hero succumbed, in the 
same manly spirit in which he had battled with an earthly foe. 
Great suffering was crowded into the twenty-four hours' illness 
which served to prostrate that vigorous form, and to still that 


active brain ; but he could look up, at the last, and say — " 1 
am not afraid to die." 

December 14, 1 79 9, was the day of his death, and the 
18th of the same month saw him laid, by a weeping multitude, 
in the family vault at Mount Vernon ; not the tomb in which 
liis ashes now repose, but the old one, which he had been plan- 
ning to rebuild, saying " Let that be done first, for perhaps I 
shall want it first/' 

We have thus traced the Father of our Country through 
all his earthly Homes, to that quiet one by the side of the Po- 
tomac, the object of devout pilgrimage to millions yet unborn. 
One more Home there is for liim, even in this changing world — 
that which he possesses in the hearts of his countrymen, 
one which we cannot picture or describe, but from which 
which he can never be displaced by the superior merit of mor- 
tal man. Other heroes may arise, will arise, as the world shall 
need them, exponents of their times and incarnations of the 
highest spirit of the race from which they spring ; but America 
can have but one Washington — one man in whom the pecu- 
liar virtues of the American character found their embodiment 
and their triumph. In saying this we may well be proud but 
not vainglorious. If the great truth it implies be not yet 
known and read of all men, we should be humbled by the 
thought that we are so slow to follow our immortal leader. 
Washington's indomitable spirit of freedom, as evident when 
at nineteen he withstood the English governor, as when in 
1774 he " went to church and fasted all day," in sympathy 
with the people of Boston, in their resolution against the Port 
Bill ; his self-control, the perfection of which made his fierce 
passions the sworn servants of virtue ; his humanity, which no 



personal suffering or fatigue could blunt, and no provocation 
extinguish ; his manly temper, never daunted by insolence or 
turned into arrogance by triumph ; the respect for the civil 
virtues which he carried with him through all the temptations 
and trials of war ; the faith in God and man which sustained 
him, and was indeed the secret of his power and his success, — 
what a legacy are these ! All that he accomplished is less to 
us than what he was. To have left an example that will 
never need defence or substitution to the end of time ; an ideal 
that will warm the heart and point the aspiration of every true 
American, when hundreds of millions shall be proud of the 
name ; to stand forth, for ever, as what we, happy citizens of 
the country in which that great soul was cradled, and to which 
his heart and life were devoted, think a man ought to be — 
what a destiny for him ! It is his reward. God has granted 
his prayers. Nothing earthly would have satisfied him, as we 
know by what he rejected. He has received that for which 
he labored. Who dare imagine the complacency — only less 
than divine, with which the retrospect of such a life may be 
fraught ! Let us indulge the thought that when in the heat 
of party, the lust of power, or the still deadlier hunger for 
wealth, we depart from his spirit, he is permitted to see that 
the dereliction is but temporary and limited ; that his country 
is true to him if his countrymen sometimes err ; that there is 
for ever imprinted, on the heart and life of the nation, the con- 
viction that in adherence to his precepts and imitation of his 
character there is safety, happiness, glory ; in departure from 
that standard, deterioration and decay. It must be so, for can 
we conceive him blest without this ? 

As if to stamp the American ideal with all perfection, it 



is remarkable that Washington stood pre-eminent in manly 
strength and beauty, and that a taste for athletic exercises 
kept him, in spite of illnesses brought on by toil, anxiety, and 

Washington's Tomb. 

exposure, in firm health during most of his life. His picture 
at sixty-two, that which he himself thought the best like- 



ness that had been taken of him, exhibits one of the loveli- 
est faces that an old man ever wore. And it is marvellous how 
any one that ever looked into the clear blue depths of the eye 
in Stuart's unfinished picture, could be persuaded to believe 
Washington stern, cold, and unfeeling. Some have even 
thought it added to his dignity to represent him thus. All 
the historians in the world could not prove such a contradic- 
tion to the stamp of nature. But the picture by Pine — the 
old man, faded somewhat, and a little fallen in outline, wears 
the face of an angel ; mild, firm, modest, sensitive, aspiring, 
glorious ! It meets your gaze with a tenderness that dims 
your eye and seems almost to dim its own. Of all the por- 
traits of Washington, this and the half-imaginary one made 
by Mr. Leutze from a miniature taken when Washington was 
seventeen, are the most touchingly beautiful, and, as we verily 
believe, most characteristic of the man. 

It is proper, though scarcely necessary, to say that this 
sketch of Washington's life is drawn from Mr. Sparks' history, 
since no research can discover a single fact overlooked by that 
faithful and just chronicler. 

$ x a it k 1 1 it ♦ 


N English traveller in the United States once expressed 

ii his astonishment at nowhere finding a monument of 
Franklin. He regarded it as a new proof of the ingratitude 
of republics. But if we have erected no columns, nor statues, 
to the memory of our first great man, we have manifested our 
gratitude for the services he rendered us, and the hearty ap- 
preciation of his character, which is universal among us, in a 
better, more affectionate and enduring manner. We name 
our towns, counties, ships, children, and institutions after him. 
His name is constantly in our mouth, and his benevolent coun- 
tenance and lofty brow are as familiar to us as the features of > 
Washington. We have Franklin banks, Franklin insurance 
companies, Franklin societies, Franklin hotels, Franklin 
markets, and even Franklin theatres. One of our line of 
battle ships is called the Franklin, and there will be found a 
Ben Franklin, the name affectionately abbreviated, on all our 
western lakes and rivers. The popular heart cherishes his 
memory more tenderly than that of any of our great men. 
Washington's heroism and lofty virtues set him above us, so 
that while we look up to him with veneration and awe, we 


hardly feci that he was one of us. His impossible grandeur 
forbids the familiar sympathy which we feel for our own kind. 
But Franklin's greatness is of that kind which makes the 
whole world kin. In him we recognize the apotheosis of use- 
fulness. He was our Good Genius, who took us by the hand 
in our national infancy, and taught us the great art of making 
the most of the world. He warmed our houses by the stove 
which still bears his name, and protected us from the terrify- 
ing thunderbolt by his simple rod. He showered upon us les- 
sons of wisdom, all calculated to increase our happiness, and 
his wise and pithy apothegms have become an important part 
of our language. Never before was a young nation blessed 
with so beneficent and generous a counsellor and guide. The 
influence of Franklin upon the national character is beyond 
estimate. He taught us alike by precept and example; and, 
in his autobiography, he laid the corner stone of our literature, 
bequeathing us a book which will always be fresh, instructive, 
and charming, while our language endures, or we look to liter- 
ature for instruction and entertainment. 

Franklin was a pure, unadulterated Englishman; he came 
of that great stock whose mission it is to improve the world. 
Though we claim him, and justly, as an American, he was 
born, and lived the better part of his life, a subject of the Eng- 
lish crown. There was never a more thorough Englishman, 
nor one whose whole consistent life more happily illustrated 
the Anglo-Saxon character, nor one who was better entitled to 
be called an American, or who showed a more lively and en- 
during love for his native soil. 1 

Every schoolboy is familiar with the history of Franklin ; 
his autobiography is our national epic ; it is more read than 

F II A N K L I N . 


Kobinson Crusoe ; and our great national museum, the Patent 
Office, has been filled with the results of ambitious attempts to 
follow in the path of the inventor of the lightning-rod. One 
boy reads Kobinson Crusoe and runs off to sea, while another 
reads Franklin's Life and tries for a patent, or begins to save 
a penny a day, that he may have three hundred pennies at the 
end of the year. There are writers who have accused Frank- 
lin of giving a sordid bias to our national character. But no- 
thing could be more unjust. There is nothing sordid in the 
teachings of our great philosopher ; while the example of his 
purely beneficent life has, doubtless, been the cause of many 
of the magnificent acts of private benevolence which have dis- 
tinguished our countrymen. 

Franklin says in his autobiograjDhy, in reference to his 
stove, which has warmed so many generations of his country- 
men, and rendered comfortable so many American homes : 
" Governor Thomas was so pleased with the construction of this 
stove that he offered to give me a sole patent for the vending 
of them for a term of years ; but I declined it from a principle 
which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., that 
as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, 
we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by an in- 
vention of ours : and this we should do freely and cordially." 
No, there was no sordidness in the teachings of Franklin. 

His immortal biography was commenced at the ripe age 
of sixty-six, while he was in England, a time of life when most 
men have lost the power to instruct or amuse with the pen ; 
but it has the ease, the freshness, and the vigor of youth. 
It was continued at Passy, in France, and concluded in Phi- 
ladelphia. He was one of the few instances of a precocious 



genius maintaining his powers to an advanced period of life. 
There were no signs of childishness in his almost infantile 
compositions, or of senility in his latest productions. 

Every body knows that the grandfather of Doctor Franklin 
was the sturdy old puritan, Peter Folger, who wrote the homely 
verses which Mr. Sparks doubts the propriety of calling poetry, 
and who dwelt in " Sherborn Town." The house in which he 
lived, and where the mother of Franklin was born, was still in 
existence but a few years since, though in a very dilapidated 
condition. We remember making a pilgrimage to it in our 
boyish days, after reading the Life of Franklin, and wondering 
in which of its little rooms the grandfather of the philosopher 
sat, when he penned the lines which the grandson thought were 
"written with manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity." The 
house stood near the water, at the head of a little cove, or 
creek, and near it was a bubbling spring, from which the mo- 
ther of the philosopher must have often drank. At that time 
there were no evidences of the surrounding grounds having 
been cultivated, and a wretched family inhabited the ruin. 
There are many descendants of Peter Folger still living, some 
of whom have been eminent for their learning and talents ; 
but, it is a remarkable circumstance, that, though Franklin's 
father and grandfather each had five sons, who grew up to 
man's estate, there is not one male descendant living of that 
name. Franklin was born on the 6th of January, old style, 
1706, on a house that stood on the corner of Milk-street, op- 
posite the old South Church, Boston, in which he was chris- 
tened. The church is still standing, but the house has been 
demolished, and, in its place, there is a large and handsome 
granite warehouse, which is made to serve the double purpose 

F 11 A X K LIN. 


of a store and a monument. On the frieze of the cornice is 
the inscription in bold granitic letters, the birth-place of 

Old South Church. Boston. 

Fr axklix. We cannot help thinking that it is just such a 
monument as he would have recommended, if his wishes had 


been consulted. But the house in which our great philosopher 
spent his earlier years, and to which his father removed soon 
after the birth of his youngest son, is still standing, very nearly 
in the same condition in which it was during his youth. It 
is on the corner of flanover and Union streets, and the 
wooden gilt ball of the old soap-boiler is still suspended from 
an iron crane, with the inscription Josias Franklin, 1698. 
The ball is the original one, but it must have been many times 
regilt and relettered. The building is occupied by a shoe 
dealer in the lower part, but the upper rooms are in the occu- 
pancy of an industrial whose art had no existence until near a 
century after the death of Franklin's father. A daguerrean 
artist now takes likenesses in the rooms where the boy-philoso- 
pher slept, and sat up late at night to read Defoe's Essay on 
Projects, and Plutarch's Lives, by the glimmering light of one 
of his father's own dips. It was here too that he read the 
Light House Tragedy, after having cut wicks all day ; and it 
was in the cellar of this house, too, that he made that charac- 
teristic suggestion to his father, of saying grace over the barrel 
of beef, which he saw him packing away for the winter's use, 
to save the trouble of a separate grace over each piece that 
should be served up for dinner. This anecdote may not be 
strictly true, but it is perfectly characteristic, and very much 
like one he tells of himself, when he was the Commander-in- 
Chief of the military forces of Pennsylvania. The chaplain of 
his regiment complained to him that the men would not attend 
prayers, whereupon, says Franklin, " I said to him, ' it is per- 
haps below the dignity of your profession to act as steward of 
the rum ; but if you were only to distribute it out after prayers 
you would have them all about you.' He liked the thought, 



undertook the task, and, with the help of a few hands to mea- 
sure out the liquor, executed it to satisfaction, and never were 
prayers more generally and more punctually attended." 

This kind of humorous good sense, was one of the marked 
peculiarities of his character ; there was lurking wit and hu- 
mor in all his acts, and in his gravest essays, of which his epi- 
grammatic letter to his old friend Strahan, the king's printer, 
is a notable example. 

The old house in which Franklin spent his boyhood is now 
a long distance from the water, and in the midst of a wilder- 
ness of brick and granite buildings, but he speaks of it as near 
the shore, and it was close by that he built the little wharf 
of stolen stones, which induced his father to impress upon 
him the great truth that " that which was not honest could 
not be truly useful." 

Where the young apprentice lived when he was boarded 
out by his brother, and first " went in " to vegetarianism, we 
have not been able to ascertain ; and, on his flight from Bos- 
ton, in his seventeenth year, he does not appear to have re- 
mained long enough in New- York to have had a home. The 
first place he slept in, in Philadelphia, was a quakcr meeting- 
house ; but his first home in the city which he afterwards ren- 
dered famous, from having resided in it, was at a public house 
in Water-street, known as the Crooked Billet; not a very sig- 
nificant sign to us of the present generation. 

Wherever Franklin went, or in whatever new sphere he 
applied himself to business, he immediately inspired confidence 
in his ability, and gained friends, as all able men do. The 
runaway boy of seventeen had hardly begun to put Bradford's 
printing office in order when he was called upon by Colonel 


French, and Sir William Keith, governor of the province, who 
invited him to a tavern, offered him a bottle of Madeira, and 
proposed to set him np in business ; yet he was not of a glib 
tongue and a prepossessing appearance. 

At the age of eighteen he made his first voyage to London, 
and lived in Little Britain with his friend KaLph at a cost of 
three shillings and sixpence a week. Franklin worked in Palm- 
er's famous printing house in Bartholomew Close, near a year, 
and for the first and only time of his life was improvident and ex- 
travagant, spending his earnings at plays and public amuse- 
ments, and neglecting to write to Miss Bead in Philadelphia, 
with whom he had " exchanged promises." He worked diligent- 
ly, though, and during that time wrote and published " A Dis- 
sertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." This 
essay gained him the friendship of an author who took him to 
the Horns, a pale ale-house, introduced him to Dr. Mandeville 
and promised him a sight of Newton. He afterwards removed to 
lodgings in Duke-street, and occupied a room up three pairs of 
stairs, which he rented of a widow, who had an only daughter, 
with whom he used to sup on half an anchovy, a very small slice 
of bread and butter, and half a pint of ale between them. He 
remained eighteen months in England, and returned to Phila- 
delphia with the expectation of entering into mercantile busi- 
ness with his friend Denman. 

It was during his voyage from London to Philadelphia 
that he wrote out the plan for regulating his future conduct, 
which, he says, he had adhered to through life. The plan has 
not been preserved, but we have the life which was conformed 
to it, and can easily conceive what it was. 

Fortunately for mankind his friend Denman died soon 



after the return of Franklin to Philadelphia, whereby his 
mercantile projects were frustrated, and he was compelled to 
return to his trade of printing ; he was just turned of twenty- 
one, and not finding employment as a merchant's clerk, he un- 
dertook the charge of his former employer's printing office. 
Here his inventive genius was taxed, for he had to make both 
types and ink, as they could not be procured short of London. 
He also engraved the copper plates, from his own designs, for 
the paper money of New J ersey, and constructed the first cop- 
per plate press that had been seen in the country. He could 
not long remain in the employment of another, and, before the 
end of the year, had established himself in business as a print- 
er, in partnership with his friend Meredith. His life now 
commenced in earnest, he was his own master, and held his 
fortune in his own hands; he had already discerned "that 
truth, sincerity, and integrity, were of the utmost importance 
to the felicity of life ; " and day by day his genius ripened and 
his noblo character was developed. In the year 1730, he was 
married to Miss Eead, and laid the foundation of the Pennsyl- 
vania Library ; the first public library that had been com- 
menced in the country. The two succeeding years of his life 
were not marked by any striking event, but they w T ere, per- 
haps, the two most important in his history, as during that 
time he schooled himself to virtue by a systematic course of 
conduct, the particulars of which he has given in his biogra- 
phy. At the end of this period he commenced his " Poor 
Kichard's Almanac," the publication of which was continued 
by him twenty-five years. It was the first successful attempt 
in authorship on this side of the Atlantic. His first " promo- 
tion," as he calls it, meaning his first public employment, was 


H M E S () F A M R RICA N S T A T E S M E N . 

on being chosen Clerk of the General Assembly; anil the 
next year he was appointed Postmaster at Philadelphia. His 
private business all the time increased ; he founded societies 
for philosophical purposes; continued to publish his paper; 
wrote innumerable pamphlets; was elected colonel of a regi- 
ment ; invented his stove, and engaged in all manner of bene- 
ficial projects ; he established hospitals and academies, made 
treaties with the Indians, became Postmaster General, and 
after devising means for cleaning the streets of Philadelphia, 
turned his attention to those of London and Westminster. 



But, it is with the " Homes " of Franklin that our limited 
space must be occupied, and not with his life and actions. 
Although he occupied, at various times, almost as many different 
houses as there are headquarters of Washington, yet there are 
few of them now left ; living always in cities, the houses he in- 
habited have been destroyed by the irresistible march of im- 
provement. In his fifty-first year, he was sent to London by the 
General Assembly to present a petition to the king, and to act 
as the agent of Pennsylvania in England. He sailed from New- 
York and arrived in London in July, 1757, and at this point 
of his life his autobiography ends. From an original letter of 
his in our possession, written on the eve of his departure from 
Philadelphia, he directs that letters must be sent to him in 
London at the Pennsylvania Coffee House, in Birchin Lane, 
where he doubtless lived on his first arrival, but his permanent 
home in London, during fifteen years, was at Mrs. Stevenson's 
in Craven-street. He travelled much in Great Britain and on 
the continent, was present at the coronation of George III., and 
returned to America in 1762, having stopped awhile at Ma- 
deira on the voyage. He went to England again in 1764, and 
after a brilliant and most serviceable career abroad, returned to 
liis native home in season to sign his name to the Declaration 
of Independence, giving a greater weight of personal chamcter, 
and a more potent popular influence to the cause than any other 
of the immortal participators in that glorious act. He died in 
the year 1790, on the 17th of April, at 11 o'clock at night, in 
his 85th year, in his house in Market-street, Philadelphia, which 
he had built for his own residence. His remains lie by the 
side of his wife's, in the burying ground of Christ Church, 



covered by a simple marble slab, in conformity with his direc- 
tions. There is a small granite pyramid in the Granary bury- 
ing ground in Boston, which the economical citizens make do 
double duty, as a memorial of the greatest name of which 
their city can boast, and a monument to his parents. 


JEFFERSON would have been a notable man in any coun- 
try and any age, because he possessed both genius and 
character. Without the former he could never have succeed- 
ed, as he did, in moulding the opinions of his contemporaries 
and successors, and without the latter, he would not have been, 
as he was, bitterly hated by his enemies and cordially loved by 
his friends. His genius, however, was not of that kind which 
in the ardor of its inspiration intoxicates the judgment ; nor 


was his character, on the other hand, of the sort which 
moves an admiration so profound, unquestioning and univer- 
sal, as to disarm the antagonism its very excellence pro- 
vokes. There was enough error and frailty, therefore, min- 
gled with his eminent qualities both of mind and heart, to in- 
volve him in seeming contradictions, and to expose his life to 
double construction and controversy. At the same time, it 
has happened to him as it has often happened in human his- 
tory, that the hostility awakened by his acts during his life, 
has dwindled with the laj>se of time, while his fame has grown 
brighter and broader with every renewal of the decisions of 
posterity. No man, we may now safely say, who has figured 
on the theatre of events in this country, with the single ex- 
ception of Washington, occupies a larger share of the venera- 
tion of Americans. 

He was born at Shadwell, in Albemarle county, Virginia, 
in 1743. His father, dying when he was twelve years of age, left 
him a large inheritance. He was educated at the College of 
William and Mary, studied law under the celebrated George 
Wythe, began the practice of it in 1767, and in 1769 was 
chosen a member of the provincial legislature, where his first 
movement — an unsuccessful one — was for the emancipation of 
the slaves. But a greater question soon engrossed Iris mind. 
Already a sj^irit of ojoposition had been excited in the colonies 
to the arbitrary measures of the parliament of Great Britain, — 
that very legislature was dissolved by the Governor, in conse- 
quence of the symj>athy displayed by its leading members with 
the patriotic proceedings of Massachusetts, — it appealed to 
the constituency, and was triumphantly returned, — and then 
in 1773, its more active spirits organized, in a room of a tavern 


at Raleigh, a system of correspondence, designed to inflame 
the zeal and unite the efforts of the colonists against the en- 
croachments of power. As a result of this activity, a conven- 
tion was called in Virginia for the purpose of choosing dele- 
gates to a more general Congress. J efferson was a member of 
it, but not being able, on account of ill-health, to attend, drew 
up a paper on the Eights of British America, which the con- 
vention did not adopt, but which it published ; " the leap he 
proposed," as he says, " being too long for the mass of the 
citizens," — and which Edmund Burke in England caused to run 
through several editions. The pamphlet procured him rejmta- 
tion, and the more honorable distinction of having his name 
placed in a bill of attainder, moved in one of the houses of Par- 
liament. Thus early was he identified with the champions of 
liberty in the new world. 

In 1775, Jefferson took his seat for the first time in the 
Continental Congress, whither he carried the same decided 
and liberal tone which had marked his legislative efforts. He 
was soon appointed on the most important committees, and 
especially on that, which, on the motion of the delegates of 
Virginia, was raised to prepare a Declaration of Independence 
for the colonies. It was a measure carried only after a strenu- 
ous and hot debate, but it was finally carried by a large ma- 
jority ; and to Jefferson was assigned the task, by his associ- 
ates, of preparing the document destined to inaugurate a new 
era in the history of mankind. How he executed the duty the 
world knows ; for this paper became the charter of freedom to 
a whole continent ; and annually to this day, millions of peo- 
ple read it with gratitude, reverence, joy, and praise to God. 
For a second time, then, we behold our Jefferson, a chosen 



champion of liberty, linking his name, not with a bill of at- 
tainder this time, but with the most signal event in the destiny 
of his country, — and one, second to none m the political fortunes 
of humanity. 

The Declaration proclaimed, Mr. J efferson retired from his 
place in the Congress to resume his seat in the legislature of 
his native State ; where, an imperfect Constitution having 
been adopted, during his absence, he was immediately involved 
in the most indefatigable labors for its reform. In connection 
with Wythe, Mason, Pendleton, and Lee, he prepared no less 
than 136 different acts, from which were derived all the most 
liberal features of the existing laws of the Commonwealth. 
They laid the foundation, in fact, of the code of Virginia, — as 
a mere monument of industry, they were a most extraordinary 
work, but when we consider the importance of some of the prin- 
ciples of legislation which they introduced, sufficient in them- 
selves to have immortalized the name of any man. Among 
these principles, were provisions for the abrogation of the laws 
of entail and primogeniture, for the establishment of religious 
freedom, for a complete amelioration of the criminal code, in- 
cluding the abolition of capital punishments in all cases, ex- 
cept of treason and murder, for the emancipation, at a certain 
age, of all slaves born after the passage of the act, for the divi- 
sion of the counties into wards and towns, and the establish- 
ment thereby of free municipal institutions, and for the intro- 
duction of a system of popular education, providing for schools in 
each town, academies in each county, and a University for the 
State. The three first were carried into effect ; but the others, 
in consequence of his personal absence on other duties, failed. 
But what a different destiny would have been that of Virginia 



if they had not foiled ! How intrepid, too, the mind which 
could conceive and urge such measures at that time ! So- 
ciety in Virginia was then divided into three classes, the 
land and slave-owners, the yeomanry, and the laboring people. 
J efferson was by birth and position of the first class, but his 
chief associations had been among the second class, while his 
sympathies were with the third class, or rather with all classes- 
Had his suggestions been adopted, these distinctions would 
have been destroyed, and Virginia raised to the first place 
among the free nations of the earth. Thus, for a third time, 
we find J efferson among the foremost advocates of the liberty 
and advancement of the people. 

In 1779 he was chosen the successor of Patrick Henry, as 
the Governor of the State ; but war having been declared, and 
a military invasion being at hand, he resigned the position on 
account of his want of military talents, in favor of General 
Nelson. He had barely time to escape with his family before 
the enemy entered his house. Congress twice solicited him to 
go abroad, first to negotiate a peace, and then a treaty of alli- 
ance and commerce with France, but as " the laboring oar," 
in his own language, " was at home," it was not until the year 
1782, when the assurance that a general peace would be con- 
cluded, became stronger, that he consented to quit his country. 
The preliminary articles of a peace, however, were received be- 
fore the time of his departure, and the objects of his mission 
being thus accomplished, he was again chosen to Congress in 

The great question then, was the formation of a better gov- 
ernment for the colonies, than the weak and ill-jointed confed- 
eration of the time had afforded. Jefferson was prejwed to enter 


into its discussion with ardor, bringing to the task that keen 
sagacity and that stern republican spirit, which were among 
his chief characteristics, when he was joined to Adams and 
Franklin in a commission for negotiating treaties of commerce 
with foreign nations. He arrived in Paris in June of 1785. 
His practical insight into affairs, his vast information, and his 
determined will, made him a valuable acquisition even to the 
distinguished abilities of his colleagues. His labors were in- 
cessant, and yet he found time to participate, as far as his 
diplomatic functions allowed, in the stirring and brilliant 
scenes then going forward on the theatre of Europe. The 
part that he had performed in the great battles for liberty in 
America, attracted towards him the regards and the confidence 
of all the prominent actors of the revolutionary drama of 
France. It was at his house that the patriots most frequently 
met ; it was in his house that the Declaration of Eights which 
preceded the first French Constitution was drafted ; it was at his 
house that the First Constitution was proposed ; it was from 
him that Lafayette received many of his best and noblest im- 
pulses, and to him that the earlier leaders of the struggle 
looked for sjmipathy, concurrence, and direction. In after 
years, in the bitter political contests of the day, it was a topic 
of reproach that he was under French influence, but the truth 
was, as some one has sagaciously remarked, that the French 
had been brought under an American influence. He simply 
continued to be abroad what he had always been at home, the 
pioneer and consistent friend of j)opular rights, — the unflinch- 
ing supporter of popular liberty. 

It was during this interval of absence in Europe, that the 
controversy in respect to a better constitution of government 



for the colonies, to which we have just alluded, was brought to 
a head. There had always been a substantial union between 
them, founded upon contiguous geographical position and 
their common interests, as well as their community of origin, 
languages, laws and religion, which the common danger of the 
Kevolution had served to strengthen and cement. But as yet 
their political union was inchoate and fragile. It was a sim- 
ple improvement upon the classical confederacies of history, 
such as had prevailed in ancient Greece, on the plains of 
Etrusca, before Borne was, among the dikes of Holland, or along 
the declivities of the Swiss Alps, — and such as Montesquieu 
and the accepted writers praised as the perfection of political ar- 
rangement, clear of all defects, and secure from foreign violence 
and domestic weakness. Yet, in the practice of the New 
World, it had not justified the praises of the theorists, for a 
fatal vice, an alarming and radical weakness had been developed 
in its want of due centripetal force. In other words, it was 
rather a conglomerate than a united whole, and the difficulty of 
the new problem which it raised consisted in the proper ad- 
justment of the federal and central with the State and local 
authority. Parties were, of course, immediately formed on 
the question of the true solution of it, the one favoring a strong 
central power, taking the name of Federalist ; and the other, 
disposed to adhere to the separate sovereignty and indepen- 
dence of the States, taking the name of Anti-Federalist. In 
the end, the Constitution actually adopted, a work only 
second in importance to the Kevolution itself, or more pro- 
perly the constructive completion of it, was a compromise be- 
tween the two, although the original parties still maintained 
their relative positions, as the friends and foes of a preponder- 
ating general government. 


Jefferson inclined to the anti-federalists, but not being in 
the midst of the debate, was scarcely mingled with its more 
exciting quarrels. It is hard to say, what shape, or whether 
a different shape at all, would have been given to the instru- 
ment of union, had he been at home to take part in its forma- 
tion. We think it probable, however, that his immense per- 
sonal influence, combined with his sharp forecast and decen- 
tralizing tendency, would have succeeded in modifying its more 
aristocratic and conservative features, especially in regard to the 
absorbing power of the Executive and the irresponsible tenure 
of the Judiciary. Be that as it may, the choice of him by 
Washington, in 1789, for the post of the first Secretary of 
State, gave him an opportunity of exercising his talents and 
manifesting his disposition, in the organization of the new ex- 

There were two antagonisms which he found it necessary 
at the outset to meet ; first, the tendency to federal absorp- 
tion, and second, the reliance upon law rather than liberty, 
both embodied in the person of Alexander Hamilton, the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, a man of genius, of energy, of sincere 
convictions, and the confidant of Washington. The two men 
were, therefore, speedily self-placed in strong opposition. .Ham- 
ilton had been educated in a military school, he admired the 
British Constitution, and, though he was an earnest patriot, 
as his efficient services in the war, and his masterly vindica- 
tions of the Constitution had proved, he cherished a secret dis- 
trust of the people. Jefferson, on the other hand, had sym- 
pathized all his life with the multitude, approved, or rather had 
anticipated, the French philosophy, which was then in vogue, 
disliked the English models of government, and was sanguine 



of the future. It was inevitable, consequently, that the oppo- 
sition of such men, both able, both decided, both earnest in 
their plans, should widen into an almost irreconcilable hostility. 
In 1793, Jefferson resigned, but not until, by his reports to 
Congress on the currency, the fisheries, weights and measures, 
and by his correspondence with foreign ministers, he had placed 
his department on a level with the Foreign Offices of the older 
nations. It is to him that we are indebted for our decimal 
coinage, and through him, as Mr. Webster, a competent and 
not too friendly judge, has confessed, our diplomatic inter- 
course was raised to a dignity and strength which will bear 
comparion with any that other governments can produce. 

In 1797 Jefferson was called from his retirement to act as 
Vice-President of the United States, — a place of not much 
practical efficiency, but which he illustrated by compiling a 
manual of Parliamentary Practice, which has ever since been 
the standard by which the proceedings of legislative bodies in 
this country are regulated. There was no position, indeed, 
which he does not appear to have been able to turn to some 
advantage to his country and his fellow-men. 

At the close of his term as Vice-President, he was chosen 
President, — a choice in which a final blow was given to the 
doctrines of Federalism, and the democratic republic finally in- 
augurated. "We shall not, however, enter into the contests of 
that period, nor attempt to detail the measures of his adminis- 
tration. They are subjects for history, not for an outline like 
this we sketch. Suffice it to say, that the aspirations of the 
people were not disappointed by the results of his action. He 
rescued the functions of government from the improper direc- 
tion which had been given to them, he organized strength 


through simplicity, he almost clouhled the territory of the 
Union, he caused the vast regions of the west, now the seat of 
populous empire, to be explored, he gave us character abroad, 
and maintained tranquillity at home, — and, last of all, against 
the solicitation of his friends, with a popular prestige that 
would have carried him in triumph through a third or fourth 
term of office, even to the close of his days, he consecrated for 
ever the example of Washington, by resigning, as that great 
man had done, at the end of eight years. 

These are the simple facts of Jefferson's active career, and 
they need no comment. They present a character obviously too 
transparent to allow of much mistake. All his life points to a 
few simple but great objects. By his sanguine temperament, his 
keen insight, his quick and cherishing sympathies, his strong 
love of justice, his kindly visions of the future, he was made a 
democrat ; and, under no circumstances could he have been any 
thing else. He hated tyranny, he loved truth, and he was 
not afraid of man ; how then could he avoid becoming what he 
was, the apostle of freedom, author of the Statutes of Virginia 
and the Declaration of Independence, founder of the republican 
party, a name of power to future generations which have 
scarcely yet come up to the greatness and breadth of Iris en- 
lightened opinions ? Errors of conduct he may have com- 
mitted, for who is perfect ? impracticable views he may have 
enunciated, for who is all-wise ? but the glory of his achieve- 
ments is an imperishable remembrance of his countrymen, 
illustrating their history to all nations and to all times. " A 
superior and commanding intellect/' it has been eloquently 
said, " is not a temporary flame burning brightly for a while, 
and then giving place to returning darkness. It is rather a 



spark of fervent heat, as well as radiant light, with power to 
enkindle the common mass of human mind ; so that when it 
glimmers in its own decay, and finally goes out in death, no 
night follows, hut it leaves the world all light, all on fire, from 
the potent contact of its own spirit." 

The retirement of Mr. Jefferson at Monticello was passed 
in the cultivation of his estate, in the pursuit of letters, in 
cheerful intercourse with friends, in the duties of a liberal hos- 
pitality, and in advancing his favorite project of a University 
of Virginia. His notes on Virginia, and his contributions to 
scientific periodicals, together with, his extensive correspond- 
ence, had Drought him to the acquaintance of the most dis- 
tinguished scientific men of the world, and his eminent politi- 
cal services had made him known to statesmen. His house 
was, therefore, always thronged with visitors, who, attracted 
by his fame, were charmed by his conversation, astonished by 
his learning, and warmed into love by the unaffected kindli- 
ness of his deportment. A beautiful retirement, full of gran- 
deur, of simplicity, of dignity and repose ! A patriarch of the 
nation which he had helped to found, and which he lived to 
see in a condition of unparalleled advancement, — illustrious in 
two hemispheres, — his name connected with events that in- 
troduced a new era in the history of his race, — surrounded 
by the grateful admiration of growing millions of people ; his 
old age was passed in the serenest contentment, amid the 
blandishments of literature and science, the interchanges of 
friendly offices, and in useful labor in the library or on the 

Monticello, which is the name which Mr. Jefferson had 
given to his home, was built in one of the most enchanting 



regions of Virginia. u It seemed designed by nature," says a 
writer, " as the very seat from which, lifted above the world's 
turmoil, one who has exhausted what it can bestow of emi- 
nence, might look down, withdrawn from its personal troubles, 
but contemplating at leisure the distant animation of the 
scene. It was a place scarcely less fit for the visionary abode 
of the philoso}3hic speculatist, than by its far-spread and shift- 
ing beauties of landscapes to inspire a poet with perpetual de- 
light." On a spire of the romantic Blue Kidge, whose varying 
outlines stretch away from it till they are lost to the sight, 
with a sylvan scene of unsurpassed loveliness in the vale below, 
the quiet Eivanna meandering through rich fields on one side, 
the pleasant village of Charlotteville dotting the other, while 
the porticoes and domes of the University rise in the distance 
behind, it overlooked a combination of natural pictures that 
are rarely found in one spot. 

" The country," says the visitor we have just quoted, " is 
not flat, but a gently waving one ; yet, from above and afar, 
its inequalities of surface vanish into a map-like smoothness, 
and are traceable only in the light and shade cast by hill and 
plain. The prospect here has a diameter of near a hundred 
miles : its scope is therefore such that atmospheric effects are 
constantly flickering over it, even in the most cloudless days 
of a climate as bright if not quite so soft as that of Italy ; and 
thus each varying aspect of the weather is reflected, all the 
while, from the features of the landscape, as the passions are 
over the face of some capricious beauty, that laughs, and 
frowns, and weeps almost in the same breath. Near you, per- 
haps, all is smiling in the sunlight ; yonder broods or bursts a 
storm ; while, in a third quarter, darkness and light contend 



upon the prospect, and chase each other. The sky itself is 
thus not more shifting than the scene you may have before 
you. It takes a new aspect at almost every moment, and be- 
witches you with a perpetual novelty." 

The mansion of the philosopher was placed on the top of 
an eminence commanding this beautiful scene. It was some- 
what fantastic in its architecture, owing to the additions and 
rebuildings that had been constantly going on, to adapt it to 
the enlarged wants and changing tastes of the occupant, but 
it was spacious, richly furnished and commodious. The rarest 
treasures of literature adorned the library, and indeed every 
part bore witness to the affluence and cultivated pursuits of 
the venerable sage. A farm of some fourteen thousand acres 
lay about among the hills, which was laboriously and carefully 
husbanded, and which gave employment in various ways to a 
number of artificers and mechanics, whose dwellings were dis- 
tributed about the slopes. His estate, in short, was a small 
and almost independent community in itself, capable of sup- 
plying the ordinary needs and even the luxuries of a highly 
civilized condition of social existence. As a proof of this, we 
may state by the way, that the carriage of the proprietor, as 
well as many of the tools and implements in daily use, had 
been manufactured on the premises. But the wonder of the 
place was the library, which was not only extensive, but ex- 
tensively rich in its rare possessions, which the master had 
seduously collected during his long residence abroad from every 
nook and corner of Europe. Unfortunately many of these 
books, afterwards presented to Congress, were burned in the 
conflagration of the Capitol. Of the man himself, a guest, 
who was any thing but an admirer, has left this record. 


u Dressed, within doors, as I saw him last, no longer in the 
red "breeches, which were once famous as his favorite and ra- 
ther conspicuous attire ; hut still vindicating hy a sanguine 
waistcoat his attachment to that Kepuhlican color ; in gray 
shorts, small silver kneehuckles, gray woollen stockings, hlack 
slippers, a hlue hody-coat, surmounted hy a gray spencer ; tall, 
and though lithe of jDerson and decidedly graceful and agile of 
motion and carriage, yet long and ill-limhed, Mr. Jefferson's 
figure was commanding and striking, though had, and his face 
most animated and agreeahle, although remarkably ugly. His 
legs, by no means shunned observation ; yet they were scarcely 
larger at the knee than in the ankle, and had never been con- 
scious of a calf. Still, though without strength, they had al- 
ways borne him along with vigor and suppleness. These bodily 
qualities and a health almost unfailing, he preserved, in a sin- 
gular degree, to the very close of his long life. At the time I 
speak of, when he was in his eighty-first year, he not only 
mounted his horse without assistance and rode habitually some 
ten miles a day, but, dismounting at a fence breast-high, wo aid 
leap over it, by only placing his hand on the topmost rail. He 
walked not only well and swiftly, but with a lightness and 
springiness of tread, such as few young men even have. It was 
a restless activity of mind, which informed all this unusual 
mobility of body ; and the two, I think, were, in him, greatly 
alike. For his intellect had, like his person, more size than 
shape, more adroitness than force, more suppleness than so- 
lidity, and affected its ends by continuity of action not mass 
of power, by manipulation not muscularity. You may batter 
to pieces with a small hammer that which a cannon-ball would 
not shiver. He was never idle : nay, hardly a moment still. 


He rose early and was up late, through his life ; and was all 
day, whenever not on foot or a-horse-back, at study, at work, 
or in conversation. If his legs and fingers were at rest, his 
tongue would sure to be a-going. Indeed, even when seated 
in his library in a low Spanish, chair, he held forth to his visit- 
ors in an almost endless flow of fine discourse, his body seemed 
as impatient of keeping still as his mind, it shifted its position 
incessantly, and so twisted itself about that you might almost 
have thought he was attitudinizing. Meantime, his face, ex- 
pressive as it was ugly, was not much less busy than his limbs, 
in bearing its part in the conversation, and kept up, all the 
while, the most speaking by-play, an eloquence of the coun- 
tenance as great as ugly features could well have. It stood to 
his conversation like the artful help of well-imagined illustra- 
tions to the text of a book : a graphic commentary on every 
word, that was as convincing to the eyes as was his discourse 
to the ears. The impression which it conveyed was a strong 
auxiliary of all he uttered : for it begat in you an almost un- 
avoidable persuasion of his sincerity." 

Jefferson's conversation is described as the most agreeable 
and brilliant of his day ; but was it this which gave him his per- 
sonal power ? He was not in other respects a man of any pre- 
eminent personal qualities ; he did not possess commanding 
military skill ; he was no orator, having seldom spoken in pub- 
he ; and though a good writer, he was not particularly distin- 
guished in that line. His conversation, therefore, may have 
helped him in acquiring a mastery of the minds of men ; but the 
real secret of his success consisted in two things — in his general 
superiority of intellect, and in his rich, generous, noble intu- 
itions. He saw the truths and spoke the words, which the 



world wanted to see and hear, at the right time — a little in 
advance of his generation, but not too much in advance so as to 
"dwarf himself by the distance." His sympathetic genius 
beat responsive to the genius of his age. His instincts were 
the instincts of the men of his day, more decided and pro- 
nounced than theirs, but still recognized as a prophecy of what 
they felt the deepest and wanted the most. All the talent, 
all the cunning, all the selfish calculation of the world could 
not have enabled him to reach the heights which he attained 
by the simple and consistent utterance of his nature. He con- 
quered, as Emerson says in speaking of the force of character 
over, and above mere force of some special faculty, because his 
arrival any where altered the face of affairs. " Oh, Iole, how 
did you know that Hercules was a God ? " " Because," an- 
swered Iole, " I was content the moment my eyes fell upon 
him. When I beheld Theseus, I desired that I might see him 
offer battle, or at least guide his horses in the chariot race ; 
but Hercules did not wait for a contest ; he conquered whether 
he stood or walked, or sat, or whatever thing he did." 

Happy in his life, Jefferson was no less happy in his death, 
for he went peacefully to rest on the fiftieth anniversary of the 
great day which he had done so much to make great, the 
J ubilee of our national freedom, — when the shouts of the peo- 
ple, as they ascended from the innumerable vales, to his reced- 
ing ears, must have sounded as a prelude to the swelling voices 
of posterity. 

stuff jcL 


IN the mouths of the people of New England, and indeed 
throughout the United States, the name of John Hancock 
has become a household word. In the State of Massachusetts, 
where he was born, lived, and died, and in the affairs of which 
he took, for five-and-twenty years, so very active and leading 
a part, he enjoyed a degree and a permanence of popularity 
never yet obtained by any other man. And yet we may ob- 
serve and the same thing may be noted in other and more 
recent instances — a remarkable fact that deserves to be pon- 


tiered — that his high degree of popularity was not at all de- 
pendent upon any peculiar embodiment or manifestation on 
his part of the more prevailing and characteristic traits of the 
community about him. Indeed the popular favor which Han- 
cock enjoyed would seem to have been determined, as the at- 
tachment of individuals so often is, and as has happened also 
in other notable instances, rather by the attraction of oppo- 

And yet Hancock's line of descent was such as might na- 
turally enough have inspired the expectation of finding in him 
a good many more marks of the old puritan temper and man- 
ners than he ever exhibited. From the days of the first set- 
tlement of New England, down to the period of the Eevolu- 
tion and afterwards, the "ministers" constituted a sort of 
clerical nobility, enjoying a very high degree of influence and 
consideration ; and it is to forefathers of that order, that a 
large part of the most distinguished and influential New Eng- 
land families may trace their origin. The elder sons of these 
ministers, commonly, and the younger ones often, were edu- 
cated to the profession of their fathers, long regarded in New 
England as the most certain road to distinction, whether 
spiritual or temporal. But as the demand for ministers was 
limited, and as their families were generally pretty large, many 
of their sons found it necessary to engage in the avocations of 
civil life, in which they not uncommonly attained to wealth 
and high social positions. Yet, for the most part, however 
zealous and successful they might be in the pursuit of temporal 
objects, they still continued to exhibit pretty evident marks of 
their clerical descent and breeding in a certain stiff, cold, and 
austere gravity, if not, indeed, in a certain sanctimonious air 



even in the very act of concluding the very tightest and sharp- 
est of bargains ; — all the attributes, in fact, comprehensively 
and impressively conveyed to an inhabitant of New England 
by the title of Deacon, which office, as if still clinging to the 
horns of the altar, they often filled ; thus becoming pillars 
and supports of that church of which their fathers had been 
the candlesticks. 

The grandfather of John Hancock, himself called John, 
was for more than fifty years, as if by a sort of vaticination of 
the future, minister of Lexington, near to Concord ; thus asso- 
ciating with that of Hancock another name, now to all Ameri- 
can ears so familiar as the scene of the first revolutionary 
bloodshed. We are told by a biographer of this first John 
Hancock, that he possessed " a facetious temper/' but in the 
grim old portrait which still hangs on the walls of his grand- 
son's family mansion-house, very small traces of facetiousness 
appear ; and so far as physiognomy goes, we should be rather 
inclined to look to his grandmother, to whose accompanying 
portrait the artist has given a fine open countenance, with some- 
thing of a magnificent and voluptuous style of beauty, for the 
source of those social qualities and captivating manners by 
which their famous grandson was distinguished. The minister 
of Lexington had two sons, both also ministers, one of whom 
became his father's colleague. The other, the father of our 
John Hancock, was settled at Braintree, near Boston, in that 
part of it which now constitutes the town of Quincy ; and it 
was here that in the year 1737 our John Hancock was born, 
only a short distance from the birth-place of John Adams, who 
was some two years his senior. The old house in which the 
future patriot first saw the light was destroyed by an accidental 


fire previous to the Eevolution ; and the land on which it had 
stood coming subsequently into the possession of J ohn Adams, 
he presented it to the town of Quincy as a site for a future 

At the age of six or seven years, the young John Hancock 
was left without a father ; but in his uncle, Thomas Hancock, 
he found a guardian and protector, who not only loved him, 
but was able to assist him. Thomas Hancock early in life 
had been placed as an apprentice to a Boston stationer, and 
had afterwards set up in that line of business for himself : but 
subsequently extending the sphere of his operations, he became 
one of the most eminent and successful merchants of New 
England. As he had no children, he adopted, as his own, his 
young nephew, whose affable and joyous temper had not failed 
to make him dear to his uncle, as they did to so many others ; 
and having sent him to Harvard College, where he graduated 
at the early age of seventeen, he took him afterwards into his 
counting-house to be initiated into the mysteries of merchan- 
dise ; and in due season admitted him as a partner. It was, 
perhaps, as well on business as for pleasure, or general im- 
provement, that the young Hancock visited England, whither 
he went in company with the returning Governor Pownall, 
whose taste for social enjoyment was similar to his own, and 
where he saw the funeral of George II. and the coronation of 
George III., little thinking at that moment how active a part 
he was himself soon to take in curtailing the limits of the 
British monarchy, and in snatching from the young king's 
crown its brightest jewel. 

Thomas Hancock, the uncle, died in 1764, leaving behind 
him a fortune amassed by his judicious and successful mercan- 



tile enterprises, of not less than $350,000, one of the largest 
ever acquired in Boston, up to that time, though small in com- 
parison with several of the present day, when even ten times as 
much may be produced by combined good fortune, tact, and per- 
severance. Thomas Hancock bestowed by his will some consid- 
erable legacies for charitable purposes, among others a thou- 
sand pounds to Harvard College to endow a professorship of ori- 
ental languages, being thus, as the historian of the college as- 
sures us 3 the first native American to endow a professorship in 
any literary institution ; — but the great bulk of his fortune he 
bequeathed to his favorite nephew, $250,000 at once, and 
a reversionary interest in $100,000 more, of which his widow 
was to enjoy the use during her life. 

Thus in 1764, at the early age of twenty-seven, and just 
upon the eve of the commencement of the revolutionary dis- 
putes with the mother country, John Hancock came into pos- 
session of one of the largest fortunes in the province. 

Yet, though this large estate was an instrument and a 
stepping-stone, without the help of which Hancock would 
never have attained to that social and political distinction 
which he coveted and enjoyed so much, yet without his rare 
personal gifts and accomplishments it would have been wholly 
unavailing to that end ; and so far from qualifying him, would 
have disqualified him, as it did so many other of the rich men 
of that time, for playing the conspicuous part he did in political 
affairs. Though for some time after his uncle's death he con- 
tinued in business as a merchant, there were others who knew 
much better than he how to increase estates, already in the 
popular estimate — especially considering the use made of 
them — quite too large. Indeed, his business operations do 


not seem to have had mainly or primarily in view the making 
of money ; for though he started new enterprises, going largely 
into ship-building, it was rather, at least so Hutchinson in- 
sinuates, as a politician than as a capitalist, looking more to 
the number of people he employed, and the increase thereby 
of his influence and popularity, than to the enlargement of his 
already plentiful fortune. There were others also who knew 
much better than he how to keep what they had, at least as 
they thought, men who used no less economy in spending their 
money than they or their fathers had done in acquiring it. 
But although the rich man who keeps his capital entire, and 
even increasing, is, in some sense, certainly a public benefactor, 
yet the fountain that overflows, sending forth a copious stream 
which the thirsty passers-by are all free to drink from, or at 

least to look at, is always more joyfully seen and more pleas- 


ingly remembered — even though it does run the risk of some 
time running dry — than the deep well, whose water is hardly 
visible, and which, though quite inexhaustible, yet for want of 
any kind of a bucket that can be made to sink into it, or any 
rope long enough to draw such a bucket up, is very little avail- 
able to the parched throats of the fainting wayfarers, who, in 
the spirit and with the feelings of Tantalus, are thus rather 
disposed to curse than to bless it. 

To be able to make money is, at least in New England, a 
very common accomplishment, to be able to keep it not a rare 
one ; but very few have understood so well as Hancock did, 
how to make the most of it in the way of spending it, obtain- 
ing from it, as he did, the double gratification of satisfying his 
own private inclinations, at the same time that he promoted 



his political views by the hold that he gained on the favor and 
good-will of his fellow-citizens. 

He possessed, indeed, in a degree, those tastes which wealth 
is best able to gratify, and to the gratification of which it is 
most essential. In the very face and eyes of the puritanical 
opinions and the staid and ultra-sober habits of New England, 
he delighted in splendid furniture, fine clothes, showy equi- 
pages, rich wines, good dinners, gay company, cards, dances, 
music, and all sorts of festivities. Nothing pleased him so 
much as to have his house full of guests to share with him in 
these enjoyments, and few were better qualified, by winning 
manners, graceful and affable address, a ready wit, a full flow 
of spirits, and a keen enjoyment of the whole thing, to act the 
part of master of the feast. But while thus luxuriously in- 
clined, he had no disposition for gross debauch : and the pre- 
sence of ladies at all his entertainments, while it seemed to give 
to them a new zest, banished from his house that riotous dis- 
sipation into which mere male gatherings are so certain to 
sink ; and which in times past, in New England, made the 
idea of gross dissipation almost inseparable from that of social 
enjoyment, nor even yet is the distinction between them fully 
apprehended by every body. 

Among other property which Hancock had inherited from 
his uncle, was a stone mansion-house, still standing, and now 
in the very centre of the city of Boston, but which then was 
looked upon as quite retired and almost in the country. This 
house, which was built about the year that Hancock was born, 
fronts eastwardly on Boston Common, since so elaborately im- 
proved and converted into so beautiful a park, with its gravel 
walks, trees, and smooth-shaven lawns, but which was then a 


common in the old English sense of the word, a common pas- 
ture for the cows of the neighbors, and a training field for the 
militia, with very few improvements except a single gravel 
walk and two or three rows of trees along Tremont-street. 
This house was situated a little west of the central and high- 
est summit of that triple hill, which had early acquired for the 
peninsula of Boston the name of Trimountain, — since short- 
ened into Tremont, and preserved in the name of the street 
above mentioned, which central summit was, from an early 
period, known as Beacon Hill, a name preserved in that of 
Beacon-street. Tins name was derived from the use to which 
this highest central summit had been put from a very early 
period — materials being always kept in readiness upon the top 
of it for kindHng a bonfire, as a means of alarming the country 
round in case of invasion or other danger. After having been 
a good deal graded down, this summit is now occupied as a 
site for the State House, which, with its conspicuous dome, 
crowns and overlooks the whole city. 

It was in this mansion-house of his uncle's, which seems as 
if by a sort of attraction to have drawn the State House to 
its side, that Hancock continued to live except when absent at 
Philadelphia in attendance on the Continental Congress ; and 
not content with its original dimensions, to afford more room 
for his numerous guests, he built at one end of it a wooden ad- 
dition, since removed, containing a dining-room, dancing-hall, 
and other like conveniences. It was here Hancock, assisted by 
his amiable and accomplished wife, who entered into all his 
tastes and feelings, and who contributed her full share to give 
expression and realization to them, presided over so many so- 
cial dinner parties and gay assemblages, dressed out, both host 



and guests, in that rich costume which Copley, who was one 
of Hancock's near neighbors, loved so well to paint, and of 
which his pencil has transmitted to us so vivid an idea. Nor 
did he show himself abroad with less display than he exhibited 
at home, his custom being to ride on public occasions in a 
splendid carriage drawn by six beautiful bays, and attended by 
several servants in livery. 

While the public attention was thus drawn upon him by 
a display which at once attracted and gratified the eyes of the 
multitude, whose envy at that time there was less fear than 
now of exciting, and by a generous and free hospitality, the 
more captivating for not being either indigenous or common, 
the part which Hancock took in the rising disputes with the 
mother country converted him into that popular idol, which 
he continued to be for the remainder of his life ; and which, 
to one so greedy as he was of honor and applause, must have 
been in the highest degree gratifying. It is indeed not un- 
common to depreciate the public services of such men as Han- 
cock, by ascribing all to vanity and the love of distinction ; as 
if without the impulse of these motives any great efforts would 
be made to serve the public ! Worthy indeed of all honor are 
those men in whom these impulses take so honorable a direc- 
tion ; and happy the nation able to purchase such services at 
so cheap a rate ! 

In 1766, two years after his uncle's death, Hancock was 
chosen, along with James Otis, Samuel Adams, and Thomas 
Cushing, one of the four representatives from Boston to the 
General Court. The seizure, two years after, of his sloop 
Liberty, for alleged violations of the revenue laws, in evading 
the payment of duties on a cargo of wine imported from Ma- 


deira, closely and personally identified him with the resistance 
then making throughout the colonies to the attempt to collect 
a revenue in America by parliamentary authority alone. This 
seizure led to a riot which figures in all the histories of that 
period, by which the commissioners of the customs were driven 
from the town, and in consequence of which two or three Bri- 
tish regiments were ordered to Boston — the first step on the 
part of the mother country towards a military enforcement of 
the authority which she claimed. Hancock felt personally the 
consequences of this riot, in a number of libels or criminal in- 
formations filed against him in the Court of Admiralty, to re- 
cover penalties to the amount of three or four hundred thou- 
sand dollars, for violations of the revenue laws. " It seemed," 
writes John Adams in his Diary, and he had ample opportu- 
nity to know, for he was retained as Hancock's counsel, "as if 
the officers of the court were determined to examine the whole 
town as witnesses." In hopes to fish out some evidence against 
him, they interrogated many of his near relations and most in- 
timate friends. They even threatened to summon his aged 
and venerable aunt : nor did those annoyances cease till the 
battle of Lexington, the siege of Boston, and the expulsion of 
the British from that town shut up the Admiralty Court, and 
brought the prosecution, and British authority along with it, to 
an end. 

At the commencement of the disputes with the mother 
country, the sentiment against the right of parliament to im- 
pose taxes on the colonies had seemed to be almost unanimous. 
The only exceptions were a few persons holding office under the 
crown. The rich especially, this being a question that touched 
the pocket, were very loud in their protests against any such 



exercise of parliamentary authority. But as the dispute grew 
more warm and violent, threatening to end in civil commotions, 
the rich, not doubting that the mother country would triumph 
in the end, and fearing the loss of their entire property in the 
attempt to save a part of it, began to draw back ; thus making 
much more conspicuous than ever the position of Hancock as 
a leader of the popular party. Indeed there was hardly a 
wealthy man in Boston, he and Bowdoin excepted, both of 
whom had not accumulated but inherited their property, who 
did not end with joining the side of the mother country. And 
the same thing may be observed of Massachusetts, and indeed 
of New England generally. Of all the larger and better-look- 
ing mansion-houses, of eighty years old and upwards, still stand- 
ing in the vicinity of Boston, of which the number is consider- 
able, there are very few that did not originally belong to some 
old tory who forfeited his property out of his very anxiety to 
preserve it. Hancock's acceptance of the command of the 
company of cadets or governor's guard, whence the title of 
colonel by which for some time he was known ; his acting with 
that company as an escort, at the funeral of Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor Oliver, who was very obnoxious to the patriots ; his refus- 
ing to go all lengths with Samuel Adams in the controversy 
with Hutchinson as to the governor's right to call the General 
Court together, elsewhere than in Boston; and the circumstance 
that although he had been several times before negatived as a 
member of the council, Hutchinson had at length allowed Iris 
name on the list of counsellors proposed by the General Court ; 
these and perhaps some other circumstances excited indeed 
some suspicions that Hancock also was growing lukewarm to 
the popular cause. But these he took care to dissipate by de- 


clining to sit as counsellor, by acting as orator at the Anniver- 
sary of the Boston Massacre, and by accepting, not long after, 
an appointment as one of the delegates to the Continental Con- 
gress. The oration above alluded to, delivered in March, 1774 ? 
and which Hancock's enemies pretended was written for him 
by Dr. Cooper, was pronounced by John Adams, who heard 
it, " an eloquent, pathetic, and spirited performance." 

" The composition," so he wrote in Iris diary, "the pronun- 
ciation, the action, all exceeded the expectation of every body. 
[These last were certainly not Cooper's.] They exceeded even 
mine, which were very considerable. Many of the sentiments 
came with great propriety from him. His invective, particu- 
larly against a preference of riches to virtue, came from him 
with a singular dignity and grace." A passage in this oration, 
which was afterwards printed, on the subject of standing armies, 
gave great offence to the British officers and soldiers by whom 
the town continued to be occupied, and not long after Governor 
Gage dismissed Hancock from his command of the company 
of cadets ; whereupon they disbanded themselves, returning 
the standard which the governor on his initiation into office 
had presented to them. 

The sensibilities of the British officers and soldiers being 
again excited by some parts of an oration delivered the next 
year by Dr. Warren, on the same anniversary, a few weeks be- 
fore the battle of Lexington, a military mob beset Hancock's 
house and began to destroy the fences and waste the grounds. 
Gage sent a military guard to put a stop to their outrages. 

But it was no longer safe for Hancock to remain in such 
close contiguity to the British troops. He was president of 
the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, which, in conse- 



quence of the act of parliament to modify the charter of that 
province, had lately assumed to themselves the power of the 
purse and the sword. He was also president of the provincial 
committee of safety, which, under authority of the Provincial 
Congress, had begun in good earnest to prepare for taking arms 
for the vindication of those rights which the men of Massachu- 
setts claimed under the now violated and (so far as parliament 
had the power) abrogated Charter of the province. Under these 
circumstances, Hancock abandoned his house, which was subse- 
quently occupied by Lord Percy as his headquarters ; and at 
the time of the march of the British troops for Concord, he 
was living at Lexington, in company with Samuel Adams. In- 
deed it was 1 supposed that one of the objects of this march 
was to seize the persons of those two patriots, to whom Gage 
seemed to point as the authors of the collision at Lexington 
by the issue of a proclamation, in which pardon was offered 
to all who, giving over their late traitorous proceedings, would 
furnish proof of their repentance and of their renewed allegi- 
ance to their king, by submitting to the authority of his duly 
appointed governor, and of the late act of parliament : but 
from this pardon John Hancock and Samuel Adams were ex- 
cepted, their offences being too flagrant to be passed over with- 
out condign punishment. 

Before the issue of this proclamation, Hancock had already 
proceeded to Philadelphia, where the famous Continental Con- 
gress of 1775 was already in session, composed, to a great ex- 
tent, of the same members with its predecessor of the year be- 
fore, but of which he had been chosen a member in place of 
Bowdoin. He was a fluent and agreeable speaker, one of 
those who, by grace of manner, seem to add a double force 
and weight to all which they say ; yet in that illustrious as- 


sembly there were quite a number, including John Adams, 
from his own State, compared with whom he could hardly 
have claimed rank as an orator. There were also in that as- 
sembly several able writers ; the state papers emanating from 
whose pens were compared by Chatham to the ablest produc- 
tions of the republican ages of Greece and Koine ; but Han- 
cock was not one of those. There were men of business there 
who undertook, without shrinking, all the Herculean labors of 
organizing the army and navy, the treasury and the foreign 
office of the new confederation — but neither in this line does 
Hancock appear to have been greatly distinguished. And yet 
it was not long before, by his appointment as president of that 
body, he rose to a position in Continental affairs, no less con- 
spicuous than that which we have seen him exercising in those 
of his own province. Circumstances led indeed to this situa- 
tion, quite apart from Hancock's personal qualifications, and 
yet had he not possessed those qualifications in a high degree, 
he would never have had the opportunity of immortalizing 
himself as he has done by his famous signature at the head of 
the Declaration of Independence, — a signature well calculated 
to give a strong impression with those who judge of personal 
character by handwriting, of the decided temper and whole- 
hearted energy of the man. Virginia, as the most populous 
and wealthy of the colonies, had received the compliment of 
furnishing the President of the Congress of 1774 ; and Peyton 
Kandolph — a planter and lawyer, an elderly gentleman of the 
old school, formerly attorney general of that province, and in 
Governor Dinwiddie's time, sent by the Assembly on a special 
message to England, to complain of the governor for the fees 
he exacted on patents of land — had been first selected for that 



distinguished station. He had again been chosen as President 
of the new Congress ; but being also speaker of the Virginia 
House of Burgesses, and that body having been called toge- 
ther by Lord Dunmore, in what proved to be its last meeting, 
to consider Lord North's conciliatory propositions, it became 
necessary for Randolph to return home. His place in Con- 
gress was filled, in compliance with an arrangement previously 
made by the House of Burgesses, by no less distinguished a suc- 
cessor than Thomas Jefferson ; but in filling up the vacant 
seat of President of Congress, during what was then regarded 
as but the temporary absence of Randolph, it was natural 
enough to look to Massachusetts, the next province to Virginia 
in population and wealth, no ways behind her in zeal for the 
cause, and, as the result proved, far her superior in military 
capabilities. Nor among the delegates present from Massa- 
chusetts, was there any one who seemed, on the whole, so well 
fitted for the station, or likely to be at all so satisfactory to the 
delegates from the other States, as John Hancock. Had 
James Bowdoin been present, he would perhaps have been 
more acceptable to the great body of the members than Han- 
cock, as being less identified than he was with violent mea- 
sures. But though chosen a delegate to the first Congress, 
the sickness of Bowdoin's wife had prevented his attendance ; 
and the same cause still operating to keep him at home, John 
Hancock had been appointed, as we have mentioned, in his 
place. Of Hancock's four colleagues, all of whom were older 
men than himself, Samuel Adams certainly, if not J ohn Adams 
also, might have disputed with him the palm of zeal and ac- 
tivity in the revolutionary cause ; but not one of them risked 
so much as he did, at least in the judgment of his fellow-mem- 


bers from the middle and southern provinces, who were gener- 
ally men of property. He alone, of all the New England dele- 
gates, had a fortune to lose ; and while his wealthy southern 
colleagues looked with some distrust upon the Adamses, regard- 
ing them perhaps a little in the light, if we may be pardoned so 
coarse an illustration, of the monkey in the fable, who wished to 
rake his chestnuts out of the fire at the risk and expense of other 
people's fingers, no such idea could attach to Hancock, who, in 
point of fortune, had probably as much to lose as any other 
member, except perhaps John Dickinson — for the wealthy 
Charles Carrol, of Maryland, had not a seat in the Congress. 
At the same time Hancock's genial manners and social spirit, 
seemed to the members from the southern and middle pro- 
vinces to make him quite one of themselves, an associate in 
pleasure and social intercourse, as well as in business ; while 
the austere spirit and laborious industry of the Adamses threat- 
ened to inflict upon them the double hardship of all work and 
no play. But while the moderate members found, as they sup- 
posed, in the fortune which Hancock had at stake a pledge 
that he would not hurry matters to any violent extremes ; the 
few also most disposed to press matters to a final breach, were 
well satisfied to have as president, one who had shown himself 
in his own province so energetic, prompt, decisive, and tho- 

Yet Hancock's colleagues, and the members generally from 
New England, never entirely forgave the preference which had 
been thus early shown to him ; and upon many of the sectional 
questions and interests which soon sprung up, and by which 
the Continental Congress was at times so seriously belittled 
and so greatly distracted, Hancock was often accused of de- 



serting the interests of New England, and of going with the 
southern party. The internal and secret history of the Con- 
tinental Congress or rather of the temporary and personal mo- 
tives "by which the conduct of its members, as to a variety of 
details, was influenced, remains so much in obscurity that it 
is not easy to ascertain the precise foundation of those charges, 
reiterated as they are in letters and other memoirs of those 
times ; but on the whole, no reason appears to regard them 
otherwise than as the natural ebullition of disappointed parti- 
sanship against a man, who, in the struggle of contending fac- 
tions and local interests, strove to hold the balance even, and 
who did not believe, with Samuel Adams and some others, that 
political wisdom was limited to New England alone. 

The President of Congress, in those times, was regarded 
as the personal representative of that body and of the sove- 
reignty of the Union ; and in that respect filled, to a certain 
degree, in the eye of the nation and of the world, the place 
now occupied by the President of the United States, though 
sharing, in no degree, the vast patronage and substantial 
power attached to the latter office. In his capacity of per- 
sonal representative of the nation the President of Congress 
kept open house and a well-spread table, to which members of 
Congress, officers of the army, attaches of the diplomatic corps 
foreign and domestic, distinguished strangers, every body in 
fact who thought themselves to be any body — a pretty large 
class, at least in America — expected invitations ; whereby was 
imposed upon that officer pretty laborious social duties, in ad- 
dition to his public and political ones, which were by no means 
trifling. All these duties of both classes, Hancock continued 
to discharge with great assiduity and to general satisfaction, 


for upwards of two years and a half, through a period at which 
the power and respectability of the Continental Congress was 
at its greatest height, before the downfall of the paper money 
and the total exhaustion of the credit of the nation at home 
and abroad had reduced the representative of the sovereignty 
of the nation to a pitiful dependence on the bounty of France, 
and upon requisitions on the States, to which very little atten- 
tion was paid. Feeling all the dignity of his position, Han- 
cock took one of the largest houses in Pluladelphia, where he 
lived in profuse hospitality, and all upon advances made out 
of his own pocket. After his day, it became necessary for 
Congress to allow their president a certain annual stipend out 
of the public treasury to support the expenses of his household. 
In Hancock's time, this was not thought of ; and it was not 
till near the close of the war, after the precedent had been es- 
tablished in the case of Iris successors, that he put in any claim 
for the reimbursement of Iris expenses. 

There is a story, that Hancock, when chosen President of 
Congress, blushed and modestly hung back, and was drawn 
into the chair only by the exertion of some gentle force on the 
part of the brawny Harrison, a member from Virginia, and 
afterwards governor of that State. And yet, according to 
John Adams, Hancock was hardly warm in his seat when he 
aspired to a much more distinguished position. He expected 
to have been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the American 
armies, and displayed in his countenance, so Adams says in 
his Diary, the greatest vexation and disappointment when 
W ashington was named for that station. It is certain that he 
had some military aspi rations, for he wrote to Washington 
shortly after his assumption of command, requesting that some 



place in the army might be kept for him, to which Washing- 
ton replied with compliments at his zeal, but with apprehen- 
sion that he had no place at his disposal worthy of Colonel 
Hancock's acceptance. Not long after his return to Boston, 
his military ardor revived. He procured himself to be chosen 
a major-general of the Massachusetts militia, and he marched 
the next summer (1778) at the head of his division to join 
the expedition against Newport, in which the French fleet and 
troops just arrived under D'Estaing, a detachment from Wash- 
ington's army under Sullivan, Greene, and La Fayette, and 
the militia from the neighboring States were to co-operate. 
But D'Estaing suffered himself to be drawn out to sea by the 
English fleet, which had appeared off Newport for that express 
purpose, and after a slight running engagement, the fleet, while 
struggling for the weather gauge, were separated by a violent 
storm, in which some of D'Estaing's ships were dismasted and 
others greatly damaged, so that he judged it necessary to put 
into Boston to refit. The American army meanwhile had 
crossed to Bhode Island, and established itself before New- 
port, but as Count D'Estaing could not be persuaded to re- 
turn, it became necessary to abandon the island, not with- 
out a battle to cover the retreat. With this expedition, 
Hancock's military career seems to have terminated ; but on 
arriving at Boston, he found ample work on hand better adapt- 
ed perhaps to his talents than the business of active warfare. 
Sullivan, of a hot and impetuous temper, and excessively vexed 
at D'Estaing's conduct, was even imprudent enough to give 
expression to his feelings in general orders. It was like touch- 
a spark to tinder, and the American army before New- York, 
which shared the general's feelings, encouraged by his exam- 
ple, "broke out," so Greene wrote to Washington, " in clamor- 


ous strains." The same disappointment was bitterly felt also 
at Boston ; for the British occupation of Newport had long 
been an eyesore to New England, occasioning great expense in 
keeping up militia to watch the enemy there, and in projects 
for their expulsion; and the prevailing dissatisfaction at the con- 
duct of the French admiral soon found expression in a serious 
riot between the populace of the town and the sailors of the 
French fleet, threatening to revive all those violent prejudices 
against the French, fostered in the colonies for near a hundred 
years, and which the recent alliance with France had glossed 
over indeed, but had not wholly subdued. Upon this occasion, 
Hancock exerted himself with zeal and success to prevent this 
ill-temper, which had broken out between the classes least ac- 
customed to restrain their feelings or the expression of them, 
from spreading any higher. He opened his house to the French 
officers, who, delighted at the opportunity of social enjoyment 
and female society, kept it full from morning till night, and 
by his " unwearied pains," so La Fayette wrote to Washington, 
did much to heal the breach which Sullivan's imprudence had 
so dangerously aggravated. On this occasion, at least, if on 
no other, Hancock's love of gayety, and of social pleasures,* * 
proved very serviceable to his country. 

During his absence at Philadelphia, his popularity at home 
had undergone no diminution, and he soon resumed, as a mem- 
ber of the council, on which since the breach with Gage the 
executive administration had devolved, a leading influence in 
the State administration ; and when at last, after two trials, a 
constitution was sanctioned by the people, he was chosen by 
general consent the first governor under it. This was a sta- 
tion of vastly more consideration then than now. Under the 



old confederation, at least after the Continental Congress, by 
the exhaustion of its credit and the repudiation of its bills, 
had no longer money at command, the States were sovereign 
in fact as well as in words ; while all that reverence which 
Under the old system had attached to the royal governors, had 
been transferred to their first republican successors. Since 
that period the State governments have sunk into mere muni- 
cipalities fur the administration of local affairs, and all eyes 
being constantly turned towards Washington, the executive 
offices of the States, even the station of governor, are no longer 
regarded except as stepping-stones to something higher. 

Hancock discharged his office as governor to good accept- 
ance for five years, when he voluntarily retired, making way 
for James Bowdoin, who might be regarded in some respects 
as his rival, the head of a party, perhaps more intelligent, and 
certainly far more select, than that great body of the popula- 
tion by whom Hancock was supported ; but whom, so at least 
his opponents said, he rather studied to follow than aspired to 
lead. During Bowdoin's administration, occurred Shays' in- 
surrection, one of the most interesting and instructive incidents 
in the history of Massachusetts, but into the particulars of 
which we have not space here to enter. This insurrection, of 
which the great object was the cancelling of debts, an object 
which the States now practically accomplish by means of insol- 
vent laws, was thought to involve, either as participators more 
or less active, or at least as favorers and sympathizers, not less 
than a third part of the population of the State. The active 
measures taken at Bowdoin's suggestion for putting down the 
insurgents by an armed force, and the political disabilities and 
other punishments inflicted upon them after their defeat, did 


not at all tend to increase Bowdoin's £>opularity with this large 
portion of the people. Though Hancock's health had not al- 
lowed him to take his seat in the Continental Congress, to 
which he had again been chosen a delegate, and by which he 
had, in his absence, been again selected as their president — yet, 
weary of retirement, he suffered himself to be brought forward 
as a candidate, and to be elected as governor over Bowdoin's 
head — a procedure never forgiven by what may be called the 
party of property, against which the insurrection of Shays had 
been aimed, whose members thenceforth did not cease, in pri- 
vate at least, to stigmatize Hancock as a mere demagogue, if 
not indeed almost a Shay site himself. Nor indeed is it impos- 
sible, that the governor, with all his property, had some per- 
sonal sympathies with that party. He, like them, was harassed 
with debts, which, as we have seen in the case of the college, 
he was not much inclined, and probably not very able, to bring 
to a settlement. He still had large possessions in lands and 
houses in Boston, but at this moment; his property was unsala- 
ble, and to a considerable extent unproductive ; and a stop 
law might have suited his convenience not less than that of 
the embarrassed farmers in the interior, who had assembled 
under the leadership of Shays to shut up the courts and put 
a stop to suits. This scheme, however, had been effectually 
put down prior to Hancock's accession to office, and it only 
remained for him to moderate, by executive clemency, the 
penalties inflicted on the suppressed insurgents — a policy which 
the state of the times and the circumstances of the case very 
loudly demanded, however little it might be to the taste of the 
more imperious leaders of the party by which those penalties 
had been inflicted. But even this same j>arty might acknow- 



ledge a great obligation to Hancock for the assistance which 
they soon after obtained from him in securing the ratification 
by Massachusetts of that federal constitution under which we 
now so happily live. Still governor of the State, he was chosen 
a delegate from Boston to the State convention, called to con- 
sider the proposed constitution : and though incapacitated by 
sickness from taking his seat till near the close of the session, 
he was named its president. The federal constitution had 
been already ratified by five States, Delaware, Pennsylvania, 
New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut. But Virginia, New 
York, and North Carolina, were known to be strongly against 
it, and its rejection by Massachusetts would, in all probability, 
prevent its acceptance by the number of States required to 
give it effect. The convention was very equally divided, and 
the result hung long in doubt. At last Hancock came upon 
the floor and proposed some amendments, principally in the 
nature of a bill of rights, agreed to probably by concert out 
of doors, to be suggested for the approval of Congress and adop- 
tion by the States under the provision for amendments con- 
tained in the constitution, and most of which were afterwards 
adopted. Thus sweetened, the constitution was fairly forced 
down the reluctant throat of the convention ; and unlike the 
typical book of St." J ohn, though so bitter in the mouth, it has 
fortunately proved sweet enough and very nourishing in the 

On the occasion of Washington's visit to Boston, subse- 
quently to his inauguration as President, a curious struggle 
took place between him and Hancock, or perhaps we ought ra- 
ther to say, between the Governor of Massachusetts and the 
President of the United States, on a question of etiquette. 



Hancock, as Governor of Massachusetts, insisted upon the first 
call, a precedence which Washington, as President of the 
United States, refused to yield. Finding himself obliged to 
succumb, Hancock's gout and other complicated diseases serv- 
ed him for once in good stead ; for in the note which he finally 
sent, announcing his intention to wait upon Washington, they 
answered as a convenient excuse for not having fulfilled that 
duty before. 

Some two or three years after, we find Governor Hancock, 
out of deference to the puritanical opinions and laws of the 
State, involved in another noticeable controversy, but one into 
which he could not have entered with any great heart. Shortly 
after the adoption of the federal constitution, a company of 
stage-players had made their appearance in Boston, and though 
the laws still prohibited theatrical exhibitions, encouraged by 
the countenance of the gayer j)art of the population, they com- 
menced the performance of plays, which they advertised in 
the newspapers as " Moral Lectures." Some of their friends 
among the townsfolks had even built a temporary theatre for 
their accommodation, a trampling under foot of the laws, which 
seemed the more reprehensible as the legislature, though ap- 
plied to for that purpose, had twice refused to repeal that pro- 
hibitory statute. " To the legislature which met shortly after," 
we quote from the fourth volume of Hildreth's History of the 
United States, " Governor Hancock gave information that c a 
number of aliens and foreigners had entered the State, and in 
the metropolis of the government, under advertisements in- 
sulting to the habits and education of the citizens, had been 
pleased to invite them to, and to exhibit before such as at- 
tended, stage-plays, interludes, and theatrical entertainments, 



under the style and appellation of Moral Lectures.' All which, 
as he complained, had been suffered' to go on without any steps 
taken to punish a most open breach of the laws, and a most 
contemptuous insult to the powers of government. Shortly 
after this denunciation by the governor, suddenly one night, in 
the midst of the performance of 6 The School for Scandal/ the 
sheriff of the county appeared on the stage, arrested the actors, 
and broke up the performances. When the examination came 
on, having procured able counsel (one of whom, if we mistake 
not, w T as the then young Harrison Gray Otis), the actors were 
discharged on the ground that the arrest was illegal, the war- 
rant not having been sworn to. This error was soon corrected, 
and a second arrest brought the performances to a close. 
But the legislature, rinding that the sentiment of the town of 
Boston was strong against the law, and that a new and per- 
manent theatre was in the course of erection, repealed the pro- 
hibitory act a few months after." 

This temporary triumph over the poor players was one of 
the last of Hancock's long series of successes ; unless indeed 
we ought to assign that station to the agency which he had in 
procuring the erasure from the federal constitution of a very 
equitable and necessary provision, authorizing suits in the 
federal courts against the States by individuals having claims 
upon them. At such a suit, brought against the State of 
Massachusetts, Hancock exhibited a vast deal of indignation 
calling the legislature together at a very inconvenient season 
of the year, and refusing to pay the least attention to the pro- 
cess served upon him. Yet the Supreme Court of the United 
States, not long after, decided that such suits would lie, as in- 
deed was sufficiently plain from the letter of the constitution 


But the sovereign States, with all the insolence customary to 
sovereigns, whether one-headed or many-headed, scorned to be 
compelled to do justice ; and the general clamor raised against 
this reasonable and even necessary provision, caused it to be 
ultimately struck from the constitution. 

Before this was accomplished, Hancock's career of life was 
over. Worn down by the gout and other aristocratic diseases, 
which the progress of democracy seems, since his time, to have 
almost banished from America, he expired at the early age of 
fifty-six, in the same house in which he had presided over so 
many social and political festivities, lamented by almost the 
entire population of the State in whose service he had spent 
the best part of his life, and whose faithful attachment to him, 
spite of some obvious weaknesses on his part, had yet never 

Had we space and inclination, many lessons might be 
drawn from the history of his life. We shall confine ourselves 
to this one, which every body's daily experience may confirm : 
that success in active life, whether political or private, even the 
attainment of the very highest positions, depends far less on an} T 
extraordinary endowments, either of nature or fortune, than 
upon an active, vigorous, and indefatigable putting to use of 
such gifts as a man happens to have. What a difference, so 
far as name and fame are concerned, and we may add, too, en- 
joyment and a good conscience, between the man who puts his 
talent to use and him who hoards it up, so that even its very 
existence remains unknown to every body but himself and his 
intimate friends. 

1 1} n % ir a 


H that I could have a home! But this felicity has 

never been permitted me. Rolling, rolling, rolling, till 
I am very near rolling into the bosom of mother earth." 

Thus wrote the venerable John Adams to his wife, in the 
sixty-fifth year of his age, and the last of his Presidency. A 
few years previous he had uttered the same sigh, nor is it in- 
frequent in his letters. " I am weary, worn, and disgusted to 
death. I had rather chop wood, dig ditches, and make fence 
upon my poor little farm. Alas, poor farm ! and poorer 
family ! what have you lost that your country might be free ! 


and that others might catch fish and hunt deer and bears at 
their ease ! " 

This was written in the days when there was such a thing 
as genuine patriotism ; when, as in the noble Greek and Ro- 
man years, there lived among us also noble men, who freely 
surrendered all that life offered them of sweet and splendid, to 
work for their fellows, and to exalt their country's state, con- 
tent that old age should find them poor in fortune and broken 
in health, so only that integrity remained, and a serene con- 
science led them undisturbed to the end of life. 

Among these former glories of our Eepublic, the name of 
John Aclams stands in the clearest sunlight of fame. No 
purer patriot ever lived. The names which dazzle us in his- 
tory become no fables when read by his light ; Plutarch tells 
no nobler story, records no greater claims ; Athens and Sparta 
smile upon him from their starry places, and Rome holds out 
her great hand of fellowship to him — for there is no virtue 
which has lived that, may not live again, and our own day 
shows that there has never been a political corruption so base 
as to despair of being emulated. 

Concerning the civil life of such a man, much might with 
ease be written. The head and front of every great political 
movement of his country, from his thirtieth year to the day of 
his death he lived no obscure life, and was missed from no 
contest. "The great pillar of support to the Declaration of 
Independence," as Jefferson called him, its fearless and elo- 
quent defender, the right hand of his country's diplomacy, and 
the strength of her treaties, he is a portion of her histoiy and 
his acts are her annals. But this devotion to the great politi- 
cal struggles of his time was not consistent with home delight s. 



These he was to scorn and to live laborious days. Early im- 
mersed in the stirring events of his day, he surrendered to the 
duty of serving, all private claims; he gave up his profession, 
he separated liimself from his wife and children to go wherever 
he could be useful ; he abandoned a mode of life most dear to 
him ; and leaving his little Sabine farm and his friendly books, 
with no hopes of personal aggrandizement, and small, unjoyous 
prospect of success in the venture he was aiding, went out to 
fight. His first act of importance, a worthy beginning to such 
career, was his defence of Preston, in the famous trial for the 
murder of certain citizens of Boston by British soldiers^ in 
1770. Preston was the captain of the British troops stationed 
in Boston, and under government orders. As may easily be 
imagined, in the uneasy state of public feeling, exasperated by 
real injuries and petty tyrannies, suspicious, discontented and 
spurred on by men who circulated a thousand injurious re- 
ports, the people and the foreign soldiery were ready at any 
moment to break out into open quarrel. Finally, this did in- 
deed happen. The soldiery, provoked beyond endurance, re- 
sisted the assaults of the people, and fired upon them. Cap- 
tain Preston was arrested and imprisoned ; five citizens had 
been killed and many wounded, and it was with difficulty that 
the people were restrained from rising into furious rebellion. 
Preston was taken to prison to await his trial, but it was for a 
time impossible to obtain counsel, so great was the hatred of 
the people to the soldiery, and so strong the feeling that no 
man would be safe from violence who would attempt to defend 
these foreigners for the murder of his own fellow-citizens. 
John Adams — then a rising lawyer in Boston, and a man who 
had already given hints of coming greatness — was sent for by 


the unfortunate captain, who begged him to undertake his 
cause. "I had no hesitation in answering/' says Adams in his 
autobiography, "that counsel ought to be the very last thing 
that an accused person should want in a free country ; that the 
bar ought, in my opinion, to be independent and impartial at 
all times, and in every circumstance, and that persons whose 
lives were at stake ought to have the counsel they preferred. 
But he must be sensible this would be as important a cause as 
was ever tried in any court or country in the world ; and that 
every lawyer must hold himself responsible, not only to his 
country, but to the highest and most infallible of all tribunals, 
for the part he should act. He must therefore expect from me 
no art or address, no sophistry or prevarication in such a cause, 
nor anything more than fact, evidence, and law would justify." 
And a little after he tells us what it cost him to act up to his 
own standard of duty. "At this time I had more business at 
the bar than any man in the province. My health was feeble. 
I was throwing away as bright prospects as any man ever had 
before him, and I had devoted myself to endless labor and anx- 
iety, if not to infamy and to death, and that for nothing, ex- 
cept what was and ought to be all in all, a sense of duty. 
In the evening, I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my apprehen- 
sions. That excellent lady, who has always encouraged me, 
burst into a flood of tears, but said she was very sensible of all 
the danger to her and to e>ur children, as well as to me, but 
she thought I had done as I ought ; she was very willing to 
share in all that was to come, and to place her trust in Provi- 

Such were the politicians of that day ; and though we do 
not doubt that private virtue as much abounds with us as 



with them, and that as great private sacrifices as this was 
public can be instanced in these later times, yet no one will be 
so hardy as to say that any politician of this day would brave 
such hazards or so daringly face peril. Politics are become a 
trade with us. The curse of popular governments is this, that 
they make office desirable in proportion to the ease with which 
it is attained, and that seeking place becomes in time as legiti- 
mate a profession as seeking oysters. No one will so mock at 
common sense, or hold the judgments of his fellow spectators 
in such light esteem, as to aver that any one of our public 
men serves his country for his country's sake, or for any better 
reason than because it is conducive to bread and butter. 
Hence it is with us a jeer and a by-word to talk about patriot- 
ism. The fact seems to be, that our material prosperity is so 
great, our resources so boundless, our outlook so glorious, our 
liberty so well assured — or at least the liberty of those among 
us who are white — that there is no call for sacrifice and patri- 
otic service. The country is rich and can well afford, if she 
will be served, to pay the servant ; but we speak of devotion 
to principle, which we believe is clean gone out from us, and 
can be predicated of no public man. 

John Adams, son of John Adams and Susannah Boylston 
Adams, was born at Quincy, Massachusetts, on the 19th day of 
October, 1735. He received the best education that the times 
afforded, graduated at Harvard College, and afterward com- 
menced the study of divinity with a view to the ministry ; at 
the same time he was occupied in teaching school, that uni- 
versal stepping-stone in New England to professional life. In- 
deed, there was then hardly more than there is now any such 
thing as a schoolmaster by profession ; and without doubt a suf- 


firing reason for the fact that our young men are so ineffi- 
ciently educated, is, that the teachers are in nine cases out of 
ten only one lesson in advance of their scholars. In those 
days, however, the schoolmaster was apt to be a person of some 
consequence. He held a position very often next in impor- 
tance to that of the parson, and ruled an autocrat over his 
little flock of beardless citizens. Nowhere has he been better 
described than in " Margaret/' in the character of Master El- 
hman, whose mingled pompousness, verbiage, and pedantry, 
admirably represent the class to which he belonged. But the 
character gradually lost its individuality as society advanced, 
until at length the great bulk of teachers, except in the col- 
leges, were merely young men preparing for the learned pro- 

The injurious effect of this state of things, which has made 
a very decided mark upon our national character, we will not 
discuss here, but it is well to note the differences between the 
manners of the colonial times, and those of our present day — 
and of these differences none is so striking as the great decrease 
of respect in which professional men are held with us compared 
with that which was yielded to them by our forefathers. With 
them the schoolmaster, the parson, the physician, the lawyer, 
were considered and treated as a sort of sacred nobility, apart 
from the vulgar, and wholly refusing admixture with them ; 
they were placed in the seats of honor, and counted among 
counsellors; their company was sought by the wealthy and 
the educated, their acts were chronicled, and their words were 
echoed from mouth to mouth. In the streets, when the 
schoolmaster or minister appeared, the children at play drew 
up into a hurried line, took off their caps, made deferential 



bows and listened with humility to the greeting or word of ad- 
vice. Nowadays, the Pope himself would be hustled in an 
omnibus, and if Master Elliman were to appear in the streets 
and offer advice to the children, ten to one but that they 
would throw dirt at him. It was in the twilight which fol- 
lowed the departing day of these venerable times and pre- 
ceded the coming on of these degenerate darker hours, that 
John Adams became a pedagogue. He was hardly at that 
age fit to be a teacher. He was thoughful, ambitious and lofty 
in his aims, but he was also somewhat indolent and wanted 
persistency. It is true that his mind was hardly made up as 
to what he should do for a living. We have said that he be- 
gan with studying for the ministry, but he tells us that he at 
one time read much in medical books, and inclined to the 
study of physic* 

Yet I imagine that his inclination to either of these pro- 
fessions was never very strong. His education at Cambridge, 
then the high seat of orthodoxy, and perhaps the advice of his 
parents, his father holding an office in the church government 
of his town of some importance at that day, may have led his 
mind in the direction of the ministry, and his studies in that 
line were very regular and persistent for some time. Surgery 
and medicine had probably merely the fleeting fascination for 

* " Three months after this (during the second quarter), the Selectmen 
procured lodgings for me at Dr. Nahum Willard's. This physician had a large 
practice, a good reputation for skill, and a pretty library. Here were Dr. 
Cheyne's works, Sydenham, and others, and Van Swieten's Commentaries on 
Boerhaave. I read a good deal in these books, and entertained many thoughts 
of becoming a physician and surgeon." — Works of John Adams, edited by 
Charles Francis Adams — Vol. II., p. V. 


him which they have for multitudes of eager young men, striv- 
ing to pry into all the subtile secrets of nature, and to find 
out all the mysteries which environ us. But as he says of 
himself, " the law drew me more and more," and in his Diary 
under the date of Sunday, 22d of August, 1756, we have the 
following entry : — 

" Yesterday I completed a contract with Mr. Putnam to 
study the law, under his inspection, for two years. I ought to 
begin with a resolution to oblige and please him and his lady 
in a particular manner ; I ought to endeavor to please every 
body, but them in particular. Necessity drove me to this de- 
termination, but my inclination, I think, was to preach ; how- 
ever, that would not do. But I set out with firm resolutions, 
I think, never to commit any meanness or injustice in the 
practice of law. The study and practice of law, I am sure, 
does not dissolve the obligations of morality or of religion; 
and, although the reason of my quitting divinity was my 
opinion concerning some disputed points, I hope I shall not 
give reason of offence, to any in that profession, by imprudent 

He now gave up his school, and somewhat changed his 
maimer of life. Before we leave him let us hear his quaint 
description of the schoolboys of his day — not very different 
from the youngsters of 1853. 

" 15. Monday (1756). — I sometimes in my sprightly mo- 
ments consider myself in my great chair at school, as some 
dictator at the head of a commonwealth. In this little state 
I can discover all the great geniuses, all the surprising actions 
and revolutions of the great world, in miniature. I have 
several renowned generals not three feet high, and several deep 



projecting politicians in petticoats. I have others catching 
and dissecting flies, accumulating remarkable pebbles, cockle- 
shells, &c, with as ardent curiosity as any virtuoso in the 
Eoyal Society. Some rattle and thunder out A, B, C, with as 
much fire and impetuosity as Alexander fought, and very often 
sit down and cry as heartily upon being outspelt as Caasar did, 
when at Alexander's sepulchre he recollected that the Mace- 
donian hero had conquered the world before his age. At one 
table sits Mr. Insipid, foppling and fluttering, spinning his 
whirligig, or playing with his fingers, as gayly and wittily as 
any Frenchified coxcomb brandishes his cane or rattles his 
snuff-box. At another, sits the polemical divine, plodding and 
wrangling in his mind about ( Adam's fall, in which we sinned 
all/ as his Primer has it. In short, my little school, like the 
great world, is made up of kings, politicians, divines, L. L. D/s, 
fops, buffoons, fiddlers, sycophants, fools, coxcombs, chimney- 
sweepers, and every other character drawn in history, or seen 
in the world. Is it not, then, the highest pleasure, my friend, 
to preside in this little world, to bestow the proper applause 
upon virtuous and generous actions, to blame and punish every 
vicious and contracted trick, to wear out of the tender mind 
every thing that is mean and little, and fire the new-born soul 
with a noble ardor and emulation ? The world affords us no 
greater pleasure. Let others waste their bloom of fife at the 
card or billiard-table among rakes or fools, and when their 
minds are sufficiently fretted with losses, and inflamed by 
wine, ramble through the streets, assaulting innocent people, 
breaking windows, or debauching young girls. I envy not 
their exalted happiness. I had rather sit in school and 
consider which of my pupils will turn out in his future life a 


hero, and which a rake, which a philosopher, and which a para- 
site, than change breasts with them, though possessed of twenty 
laced waistcoats and a thousand pounds a year."* 

One of the most interesting features of the early part of 
the " Diary " from which these extracts have been taken, is 
the perfect simplicity and truthfulness with which the writer 
details his efforts to attain steadfastness of purpose and dili- 
gence in study. He feels in moments of reflection the value 
of his time and the sacredness of duty ; he makes the best 
resolutions, and concocts the wisest plans for improvement 
and the most liberal schemes of study ; but his animal spirits, 
which flowed on in cheerfulness, even to his latest day of life, 
his social nature, and his admiration for women, all played sad 
pranks with his resolves, and drew out from him many a re- 
pentant sigh over lost and wasted time. Yet this trouble 
ceases almost as soon as he begins to study law and gives 
up Iris uncertain dairyings with schoolkeeping, divinity, and 
medicine. Having once put his shoulder to the wheel, he 
worked with vigor, and began to show what greatness of char- 
acter there was in him. Let it not be understood from what 
we have said, that J ohn Adams was ever a seeker after low or 
vulgar pleasures. More than once in his " Diary" he ridicules 
the foolish, extravagant, licentious amusements of the young 
men of his time. Card-playing, drinking, backgammon, smok- 
ing, and swearing, he says are the fashionable means of getting 
rid of time, which excited in his mind only contempt. " I 
know not," he says, "how any young fellow can study in this 
town. What pleasure can a young gentleman who is capable 
of thinking, take in playing cards ? It gratifies none of the 

* Works of John Adams — Vol. II., page 9. 



senses, neither sight, hearing, taste, smelling, nor feeling ; it 
can entertain the mind only by hushing its clamors. Cards, 
backgammon, &c, are the great antidotes to reflection, to 
thinking, that cruel tyrant within us ! What learning or 
sense are we to expect from young gentlemen in whom a fond- 
ness for cards, &o, outgrows and chokes the desire of know- 

Up to the time of his commencing the study of law with 
Mr. Putnam, John Adams had resided in Braintree, sharing 
in the social intercourses of the place, its tea-parties, clubs of 
young men, visiting and receiviug visitors, and all the common 
civilities of countiy life. On one occasion, we find him taking 
tea and spending the evening at Mr. Putnam's, in conversa- 
tion about Christianity. This was at the time when Adams 
was studying divinity, and it is evident that he discussed reli- 
gion and theological subjects with a good deal of interest, since 
we find that the talk at almost all these meetings turns in that 
direction. There seems to have been a decided leaning towards 
speculation and doubt in the minds of many men, on the sub- 
ject of Christianity, at that day, and we frequently find their 
opinion very frankly expressed in the " Diary/' and left almost 
without comment by the recorder. He was very fond of chat- 
ting with his neighbors over a social cup of tea, sometimes 
after a day spent in hard study, at other times resting from 
the fatigues of attending to little affairs about the farm, load- 
ing and unloading carts, splitting wood, and doing other 
chores. He is apt to be a little impatient with himself. 
He finds it easier to say before going to bed that he will 
rise at six than to get up when the hour arrives. Several 
days in the " Diary " bear for sole record — " Dreamed away 


this day," and once when several had slipped by without any 
seeming good result, he writes — " Thursday, Friday. I know 
not what became of these days and again — " Friday, Satur- 
day, Sunday, Monday. All spent in absolute idleness, or which 
is worse, gallanting the girls." The next day — " Tuesday. 
Sat down and recollected myself, and read a little in Van 
Muyden, a little in Naval Trade and Commerce." 

And so the good seems always leading him on, always elud- 
ing him, and playing sad momentary havoc with his peace of 
mind. But he consents to no doubtful terms with the enemy. 
He determined to conquer the foes of sloth, inattention, social 
indulgence, and do his whole duty. With the responsibilities 
of time came the cure for youthful follies, and his marriage in 
the thirtieth year of his age, dealt the last fatal blow to 
all his enemies. In 1764 he thus writes : — 

" Here it may be proper to recollect something which 
makes an article of great importance in the life of every man. 
I was of an amorous disposition, and, very early, from ten or 
eleven years of age, was very fond of the society of females. 
I had my favorites among the young women, and spent many 
of my evenings in their company ; and this disposition, al- 
though controlled for seven years after my entrance into col- 
lege, returned, and engaged me too much till I was married. 

" I shall draw no characters, nor give any enumeration of 
my youthful flames. It would be considered as no compli- 
ment to the dead or the living. This I will say : — they were 
all modest and virtuous girls, and always maintained their 
character through life. No virgin or matron ever had cause to 
blush at the sight of me, or to regret her acquaintance with 
me. No father, brother, son, or friend, ever had cause of 



grief or resentment for any intercourse between me and any 
daughter, sister, mother, or any relation of the female sex. 
These reflections, to me consolatory beyond all expression, I 
am able to make with truth and sincerity ; and I presume I 
am indebted for this blessing to my education. 

" I passed the summer of 1764 in attending courts and 
pursuing my studies, with some amusement on my little farm, 
to which I was frequently making additions, until the fall, 
when, on the 25th of October, I was married to Miss Smith, 
second daughter of the Kev. William Smith, minister of Wey- 
mouth, granddaughter of the Hon. John Quincy, of Braintree, 
a connection which has been the source of all my felicity, al- 
though a sense of duty, which forced me away from her and 
my children for so many years, produced all the griefs of my 
heart and all that I esteem real afflictions in life."* 

In 1758, his term of study with Mr. Putnam being ex- 
pired, John Adams left Worcester, having determined for 
several reasons not to settle there, but to establish himself, if 
possible, in Braintree, where his father and mother resided. 
They had invited him to live with them, and he says that as 
there had never been a lawyer in any country part of the county 
of Suffolk, he was determined to try his fortune there. His 
acquaintances told him that "the town of Boston was full of 
lawyers, many of them of established characters for long expe- 
rience, great abilities, and extensive fame, who might be jeal- 
ous of such a novelty as a lawyer in the country part of their 
county, and might be induced to obstruct me. I returned, 
that I was not wholly unknown to some of the most celebrated 

* The Works of John Adams — Vol. II., p. 145. 


of those gentlemen ; that I believed they had too much candor 
and generosity to injure a young man ; and, at all events, I 
could try the experiment, and if I should find no hope of suc- 
cess, I should then think of some other place or some other 
course." The result was that he established himself in Brain- 
tree, living at his father's house, and continuing his studies 
patiently and perseveringly until clients began to appear. 
He gives an amusing account of his first "writ" and chroni- 
cles its failure with a nonchalant stoicism which can hardly 
conceal his vexation at being laughed at by his acquaintances 
among the young lawyers of the town. His residence in Brain- 
tree seems to have been a pleasant one. He had much leisure 
for study and reading, and made good use of his time. He 
was acquainted with all the people of consequence in the town, 
and was, as we have said, fond of visiting, calling in to take a 
social pipe or glass, as was the fashion of the day, to chat with 
the wife or daughter of the house, to discuss with the head of 
the family the last political bubble of the hour, the prospect 
of the crops, the expediency of this or that proceeding in the 
village, or any of the local topics of the day. Sometimes we 
find him with a knot of young fellows met together of an even- 
ing, discussing with one or two some question in morals or rhe- 
toric, or sitting abstracted with a book or his pipe on one side 
the chimney, the room filled with smoke, the rest of the party 
engaged in card-playing, backgammon, or other sedative game. 
At another time, though somewhat later, he speaks of hearing 
a the ladies talk about ribbon, catgut, and Paris net, riding- 
hoods, cloth, silk, and lace ; " and again he has a pleasant pic- 
ture of taking tea at his grandfather Quincy's — " the old gen- 
tleman inquisitive about the hearing before the governor and 



council, about the governor's and secretary's looks and beha- 
vior, and about the final determination of the board. The old 
lady as merry and chatty as ever, with her stories out of the 
newspapers." He had through life a serene equable mind, he 
took the kindness and unkindness of fortune with even looks, and 
preserved his relish for a joke undiminished, in all his circum- 
stances. We have before us two portraits of John Adams 
painted, the one when about forty years of age, the other when 
he was ninety. The younger likeness is a face of remarkable 
beauty, the forehead broad, serene, and intelligent, the eye- 
brows dark and elegantly arched over a pair of eyes which we 
make no doubt did fierce execution among the young women 
of the period who came under their sparkling influence. The 
lips, full, finely curved, and giving an expression of great sweet- 
ness to the face, are yet firmly set, and combine with the atti- 
tude of the head to convey an impression of haughtiness and 
dignity. The chin is full, rounded, and inclined to be double ; 
the powdered hair and the stiff coat take away from the youth- 
ful appearance of the picture.'"" The other portrait is from an 
original by Gilbert Stuart, and was painted when John Adams 
was in his ninetieth year. At this time he was obliged to be 
feci from a spoon ; yet no one, looking at this noble, vigorous 
head, with its fine color and magnificent forehead, would sup- 
pose his age so great. The beauty of the young man has 
grown into the fuller nobility of a face in which there appears 
no trace of any evil passion, no mark of any uneasy thought, 
but an undisturbed serenity that looks back on life and awaits 

* This picture is engraved in the "Life and Works," Vol. IT., Frontispiece. 
We are obliged to guess at the age when it was taken, since we find no hint 
concerning it — indeed no reference to the picture any where in the book. 


death with the happiest memories and the gladdest anticipa- 

In 17GS, Mr. Adams, by the advice of his friends, who 
were urgent with him, removed to Boston, and took the house 
in Brattle Square called the White House. His son, John 
Quincy Adams, was born the year before — his life commenced 
with the most stirring period of his country's history, and it 
was his good fortune to bring down to our times so clear a 
memory of those events as to make a conversation with him 
on the subject an era in the life of an American. Shortly 
after the removal of John Adams to Boston, he was requested 
to accept an office under government ; but although it was of- 
fered to him without respect to his opinions, which were well 
known to be hostile to the British rule in Massachusetts, and 
although the office was very lucrative, yet he insisted on re- 
fusing it, because he feared that he should sacrifice his inde- 
pendence in some manner to the influences of the position. 
He therefore declined any connection with the government, 
and continued the practice of the law, which had now become 
the source of a very handsome income, and was leading him 
by rapid steps into a very wide and honorable repute. 

Before leaving Braintree, John Adams had become accus- 
tomed to a great deal of exercise, riding horseback to Boston, 
Germantown, Weymouth, and other adjoining towns ; cutting 
down trees, superintending planting and harvesting, and every 
way taking a good share of the work on his farm. Some of 
the pleasantest portions of the " Diary" are those in which ho 
describes this part of his life. The following extract gives a 
moral picture of his habits : — ■ 

" October, 22. Friday. Spent last Monday in taking plea- 



sure with Mr. Wibircl. * * * * * * * 
Upon this part of the peninsula is a number of trees, which 
appear very much like t he-lime tree of Europe, which gentle- 
tlemen are so fond of planting in their gardens for their 
beauty. Keturned to Mr. Borland's,f dined, and afternoon 
rode to Germantown, where we spent our evening. Deacon 
Palmer showed us his lucerne growing. in his garden, of which 
he has cut, as he tells us, four crops this year. The Deacon had 
his lucerne seeds of Mr. Greenleaf, of Abington, who had his 
of Judge Oliver. The Deacon watered his but twice this 
summer, and intends to expose it uncovered to all the weather 
of the winter for a fair trial, whether it will endure our winters 
or not. Each of his four crops had attained a good length. 
It has a rich fragrance for a grass. He showed us a cut of it 
in c Nature Displayed/ and another of St. Foin, and another 
of trefoil. The cut of the lucerne was exact enough ; the pod 
in which the seeds are is an odd thing, a kind of ram's-horn 
or straw. 

"We had a good deal of conversation upon husbandry. 
The Deacon has about seventy bushels of potatoes this year on 
about one quarter of an acre of ground. Trees of several sorts 
considered. The wild cherry-tree bears a fruit of some value ; 
the wood is very good for the cabinet-maker, and is not bad to 
burn. It is a tree of much beauty ; its leaves and bark are 
handsome, and its shape. The locust ; good timber, fattening 
to soil by its leaves, blossoms, &c. ; good wood, quick growth, 

* " The American nettle-tree. One of these is still to be seen growing out 
of the top of the rock at this place." — Ed. Life and Works. 

f "This is the mansion afterwards purchased by the writer, in which he 
lived from the date of his last return from Europe until his death in 1826. — lb. 


&c. The larch-tree ; there is but one* in the country, that 
in the lieutenant-governor's yard at Milton ; it looks somewhat 
like an evergreen, but is not ; sheds its leaves. 

" I read in Thompson's Travels in Turkey in Asia, men- 
tion of a turpentine called by the name of turpentine of 
Venice, which is not the product of Venice, but of Dauphine. 
and flows from the larch tree. It is thick and balsamic, and 
used in several arts, particularly that of enamelling. 

" 24. Sunday. Before sunrise. — My thoughts have taken 
a sudden turn to husbandry. Have contracted with Jo. Field 
to clear my swamp, and to build me a long string of stone 
wall, and with Isaac to build me sixteen rods more, and with 
Jo. Field to build me six rods more. And my thoughts are 
running continually from the orchard to the pasture, and from 
thence to the swamp, and thence to the house and barn, and 
land adjoining. Sometimes I am at the orchard ploughing up 
acre after acre, planting, pruning apple-trees, mending fences, 
carting dung ; sometimes in the pasture, digging stones, clear- 
ing bushes, pruning trees, building to redeem posts and rails ; 
and sometimes removing button-trees down to my house; 
sometimes I am at the old swamp burning bushes, digging 
stumps and roots, cutting ditches across the meadows and 
against my uncle ; and am sometimes at the other end of the 
town buying posts and rails to fence against my uncle, and 
against the brook ; and am sometimes ploughing the upland 
with six yoke of oxen, and planting corn, potatoes, &c, and 
digging up the meadows and sowing onions, planting cabbages, 
&c., &c. Sometimes I am at the homestead, running cross- 

* This tree still remains in fine .condition on Milton Hill. — Ed. Life and 



fences, and planting potatoes by the acre, and corn by the two 
acres, and running a ditch along the line between me and 
Field, and a fence along the brook against my brother, and 
another ditch in the middle from Field's line to the meadows. 
Sometimes am carting gravel from the neighboring hills, and 
sometimes dust from the streets upon the fresh meadows, and 
am sometimes ploughing, sometimes digging those meadows to 
introduce clover and other English grasses."* 

Thus passed the days of his early married life in Brain- 
tree, between the earnest study of the law, the participation 
in social intercourse with friends and neighbors, and occasional 
Bucolical episodes. In 1768, as we have said, he removed to 
Boston, and but seldom went into the country. In 1771, 
however, we find him writing as follows : 

" The complicated cares of my legal and political engage- 
ments, the slender diet to which I was obliged to confine my- 
self, the air of the town of Boston, which was not favorable to 
me, who had been born and passed almost all my life in the coun- 
try, but especially the constant obligation to speak in public, 
almost every day, for many hours, had exhausted my health, 
brought on a pain in my breast, and a complaint in my lungs, 
which seriously threatened my life, and compelled me to throw 
off a great part of the load of business, both public and pri- 
vate, and return to my farm in the country. Early in the 
Spring of 1771, I removed my family to Braintree, still hold- 
ing, however, an office in Boston. The air of my native spot, 
and the fine breezes from the sea on one side, and the rocky 
mountains of pine and savin on the other, together with daily 
rides on horseback and the amusements of agriculture, always 

* Life and Works— Vol. EL, p. 136-138. 


delightful to me, soon restored my health in a considerable de- 

"April 16. Tuesday evening. Last Wednesday, my fur- 
niture was all removed to Braintree. Saturday I carried up 
my wife and youngest child, and spent the Sabbath there very 
agreeably. On the 20th or 25th of April, 1768, I removed 
into Boston. In the three years I have spent in that town, 
have received innumerable civilities from many of the inhabit- 
ants; many expressions of their good will, both of a public 
and private nature. Of these I have the most pleasing and 
grateful remembrance. • * * * * * 

" Monday morning I returned to town, and was at my 
office before nine. I find I shall spend more time in my office 
than ever I did. Now my family is away, I feel no inclina- 
tion at all, no temptation, to be any where but at my office. 
I am in it by six in the morning, I am in it at nine at night, 
and I spend but a small space of time in running down to my 
brother's to breakfast, dinner, and tea. Yesterday, I rode to 
town from Braintree before nine, attended my office till near 
two, then dined and went over the ferry to Cambridge. At- 
tended the House the whole afternoon, returned and spent the 
whole evening in my office alone, and I spent the time much 
more profitably, as well as pleasantly, than I should have done 
at club. This evening is spending the same way. In the 
evening, I can be alone at my office, and nowhere else ; I 
never could in my family. 

" 18. Thursday — Fast day. Tuesday I staid at my office 
in town ; yesterday went up to Cambridge, returned at night 
to Boston, and to Braintree, — still, calm, happy Braintree, — 
at nine o'clock at night. This morning, cast my eyes out to 



see what my workmen had done in my absence, and rode 
with my wife over to Weymouth; there we are to hear young 
Blake — a pretty fellow. 

" 20. Saturday. Friday morning by nine o'clock, arrived 
at my office in Boston, and this afternoon returned ^ to Brain- 
tree ; arrived just at tea-time ; drank tea with my wife. Since 
this hour, a week ago, I have led a life active enough ; have 
been to Boston twice, to Cambridge twice, to Weymouth once, 
and attended my office and the court too. 

" But I shall be no more perplexed in this manner. I 
shall have no journeys to make to Cambridge, no General Court 
to attend ; but shall divide my time between Boston and 
Braintree, between law and husbandry '—fareivell politics."* 

During Mr. Adams's residence in Boston he did not always 
occupy the same house. In April, 1768, he removed, as we 
have said, to the White House in Brattle Square. In the 
spring, 1769, he removed to Cole Lane, to Mr. Fayerweather's 
house. In 1770, he removed to another house in Brattle 

In 1772 he again removed to Boston with his family, and 
finding, as he says, that "it was very troublesome to hire 
houses, and to be often obliged to remove, I determined to 
purchase a house, and Mr. Hunt offering me one in Queen- 
street, near the scene of my business, opposite the Court House, 
I bought it, and inconvenient and contracted as it was, I 
made it answer, both for a dwelling and an office, till a few 
weeks before the 19th of April, 1775, when the war com- 

* Life and Works— Vol. II, p. 255. 


" In 1774 Mr. Adams was arjpointed delegate to the first 
American Congress at Philadelphia, and was obliged to leave 
his family in Braintree, while he himself remained with the 
Congress. He continued to reside in Philadelphia, visiting Ins 
family but seldom, and then in a very hurried manner, till the 
year 1776, when he was appointed commissioner to France in 
the place of Silas Deane, who was recalled. The treaty with 
France having been concluded by Dr. Franklin before Mr. 
Adams reached Paris, he returned home after an absence of a 
year and a half. 

Hardly had he returned before he was again dispatched as 
Minister to the Court of St. James. While abroad at this 
time he made some stay in Paris, was afterwards at Amster- 
dam for the purpose of negotiating a loan and forming a 
treaty of amity and commerce with Holland, and still later, in 
1785, was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain. 
During all this time he had been separated from his wife — a 
space of nearly six years — but in 1784, finding that there was 
no prospect of a return, he sent for Mrs. Adams to join him in 
London. On reaching London, Mrs. Adams found that her 
husband was in Paris ; her son, John Quincy Adams, was sent 
by his father to escort his mother and sister to France. The 
letters of Mrs. Adams, describing their mode of life in Paris, 
or rather at the little town of Auteuil, and also those which 
give an account of her residence in London, are most charm- 
ingly written, and we wish there was room for long extracts 
from them, but we already trespass upon the reader's kindness. 
We have space for only one pretty domestic picture. 

The family are expecting a packet of letters from America, 
which their friend Mr. Charles Storer has sent from London to 



Paris. They had some difficulty in procuring them from the 

" About eight in the evening, however, they were brought 
in and safely delivered, to our great joy. "We were all toge- 
ther. Mr. Adams in his easy chair upon one side of the table, 
reading Plato's Laws ; Mrs. A. upon the other, reading Mr. 
St. John's "Letters Abby, sitting upon the left hand, in a 
low chair, in a pensive posture ; — enter J. Q. A. from his own 
room, with the letters in his hand, tied and sealed up, as if 
they were never to be read ; for Charles had put half a dozen 
new covers upon them. Mr. A. must cut and undo them lei- 
surely, each one watching with eagerness. Finally, the ori- 
ginals were discovered; c Here is one for you, my dear, and 
here is another ; and here, Miss Abby, are four, five, upon my 
word, six, for you, and more yet for your mamma. Well, I 
fancy I shall come off but slenderly. Only one for me.' ' Are 
there none for me, sir ? ' says Mr. J. Q. A., erecting his head, 
and walking away a little mortified." 

On his return from Europe, Mr. Adams resided — whenever 
political duties permitted his absence from the seat of govern- 
ment — at the mansion in Quincy, the name by which the 
more ancient portion of Braintree was called. 

The estate was purchased after the revolution. The house 
had been built long before by one of the Vassall family, a well- 
known republican name in England in the time of the com- 
monwealth, some members of which had transferred themselves 
to Jamaica under Cromwell's projects of colonizing that island, 
and from thence had come to Massachusetts. But time had 
changed them from republicans to royalists, and when the 
revolution broke out they were on the side of the mother 


country. In Quincy, however, the race had run into females, 
and the house belonged to a descendant by the name of Bor- 
land, who sold it to the agent of Mr. Adams. It was then, 
however, very different from what it is now. Mr. Adams 
nearly doubled the size of it, and altered the front. It has 
since been altered once or twice, and lately by the present oc- 
cupant, Mr. Charles Francis Adams, a grandson of the Presi- 

In this house Mr. Adams continued to reside till his death 
in 1826. During the time that he was in Philadelphia and 
Washington as President and Vice-President, Mrs. Adams re- 
mained at Quincy, partly on account of her health, partly to 
take charge of her husband's private property, which had 
never been large, and which had suffered much diminution 
from the expenses incident to public life. 

Mrs. Adams's account of her residence in Washington — 
the troubles which she had in procuring almost the necessaries 
of life in that out of the way settlement — her description of 
Washington and the White House at that early date, have 
been printed too often in newspapers all over the country, to 
need insertion here. Not less interesting than these letters are 
those which describe her life in Philadelphia; her little sketches 
of society in that city, then the seat of government, have all 
the charms which the unaffected letters of an elegant woman 
cannot fail to display. 

The following letter will conclude our article, showing, as 
it does, the peaceful occupations of this happy aged couple, 
retired to their beloved home to await the inevitable summons, 
to which they looked forward with the beautiful resignation of 



minds in love with virtue, and conscious of no offence against 
the laws of God or man. 


Quincy, 12 July, 1801. 

"My Dear Son: 

"lam much delighted to learn that you intend making a 
visit to the old mansion. I wish you could have accomplished 
it so as to have heen here by this time, which would have 
given you an opportunity of being at Commencement, meeting 
many of your old acquaintances, and visiting the seat of science, 
where you received your first rudiments. 

" I shall look daily for you. You will find your father in 
the fields, attending to his haymakers, and your mother busily 
occupied in the domestic concerns of her family. I regret 
that a fortnight of sharp drought has shorn many of the beau- 
ties we had in rich luxuriance. The verdure of the grass has 
become a brown, the flowers hang their heads, droop, and fade, 
whilst the vegetable world languishes ; yet still we have a pure 
air. The crops of hay have been abundant ; upon this spot, 
where eight years ago we cut scarcely six tons, we now have 
thirty. c We are here, among the vast and noble scenes of 
nature, where we walk in the light and open ways of the divine 
bounty, and where our senses are feasted with the clear and 
genuine taste of their objects/ * * * * * 

" I am, my dear Thomas, affectionately, your mother, 

"Abigail Adams." 

Mrs. Adams died at Quincy on the 28th of October, 1818, 
aged seventy-four years. 


John Adams died at the good age of ninety-one years, on 
the 4th of July, 1826. We thank God, as he did, that a life 
spent in the service of his country should close without pain 
and in perfect tranquillity of soul, on the anniversary of the 
best day in her history, and a day with which his name is for 
ever associated in our gratefullest memories. 

fairirk forg. 


rpHERE is no "Home of an American Statesman" that 
-L m ay more fitly claim the leading place in this our reposi- 
tory than the dwelling of Patrick Henry — the earliest, the 
most eloquent, and the wisest of those whose high counsels first 
swayed us as one people and drew us to a common cause ; 
as resolutely as ably directed that cause to its noble event ; 
and, in a word, performing in the civil struggle all that Wash- 
ington executed in the military, achieved for us existence as a 

In the Heroic Age, however, such as was to us the Revo- 


lution, men build not monuments nor engrave commemor- 
ative inscriptions: those of nature, identified by rude but 
reverential tradition, alone attest where the founders of a race, 
the great fathers of an empire, have sprung. 

If there be, among the many men of that brave day, one 
prompter and more unfaltering than all the rest ; if, among 
all who moved by stirring words and decisive acts the general 
mind of the country, there was one who more directly than 
any, or than all, set it in a flame not to be extinguished ; if 
amidst those lights there was one, the day star, till whose com- 
ing there was no dawn, it was certainly Henry. It is true 
that, before him, Massachusetts had her quarrel with Eng- 
land, but not with the common sympathy of the colonies. 
For, averse, from her very foundation, to not merely the do- 
minion, but the very institutions of the mother country, she 
had kept up with it a continual bickering, religious as well as 
civil ; a strife at best local, often ill-tempered and factious ; 
so that her too frequent broils, commanding little regard, 
would have continued to come to nothing had not an opposi- 
tion to English measures sprung up in a more loyal quarter. 
The southern colonies, meanwhile, had always loved the parent 
land, both church and state, and naturally had been indul- 
gently dealt with by its legislation. Thus, until that ill-ad- 
vised measure, the Stamp Act, came, to affect all the Ameri- 
can plantations alike, there had been nothing to draw us to- 
gether in a common cause, a common resistance. The Stamp 
Act gave that cause, and Henry led that resistance. Young, 
obscure, unconnected, unaided, uncounselled, and even un- 
countenanced, he yet, by the sudden splendor of his eloquence, 
his abilities, and his dauntless resolution, carried every thing 



before hirn ; animated the whole land to a determined asser- 
tion of their rights ; established for himself a boundless influ- 
ence over the popular mind ; used it, whenever the occasion 
came, to sound the signal of an unshrinking opposition to 
every encroachment ; led the way, independently of all move- 
ments elsewhere ; devised and brought about every main mea- 
sure of preparation ; rejected all compromise ; clearly the first 
to see the certain issue of the contest in European interposi- 
tion and the establishment of our Independence, pursued 
steadily that aim before even he could openly avow it : and 
finally, when things were ripe, assumed it for his State, in- 
structed her deputation to propose it to all the rest, and in- 
deed, involved them in it beyond avoidance, by setting up a 
regular and permanent Kepublican Constitution in Virginia ; 
a step that allowed no retreat, and was not less decisive than 
the heroical act of Cortez, when, marching upon Mexico from 
his landing-place, he burnt his vessels behind him. Henry 
was, in a word, the Moses who led us forth from the house of 
bondage. If there had been an opposition before his, it was 
not the appointed, and would have been an ineffectual one. 
There had, no doubt, been Jews enough that murmured, even 
before he who was to deliver them appeared. We may, there- 
fore, fitly apply to Henry, in regard to the bringing about of 
our Independence, all that Dryden so finely said of Bacon in 
science : 

" Bacon, like Moses, led us forth, at last : 
The barren wilderness he passed ; 
Did on the very border stand 
Of the blest promised land ; 
And from the mountain-top of his exalted wit, 
Saw it himself and showed us it." 


And yet Henry, like nearly all his illustrious fellow-laborers 
of freedom, sleeps in an undistinguished grave. At his death, 
party spirit denied to his memory the tokens of public admira- 
tion and regret, offered in that very legislature of which he 
had been the great light, and which, indeed, he had called 
into being. Since that sorry failure — for all faction should 
have been hushed over the body of a citizen and a man so ad- 
mirable — no further notice has been taken of hini ; and he 
who merited a national monument, only less proud than that 
due to Washington himself, slumbers beneath an humble 
private one at Ked Hill, the secluded residence where he 

But we turn to those personal particulars of this extra- 
ordinary man which are appropriate to the design of the pre- 
sent volume. Not a few of them will be found to involve im- 
portant corrections of the received account of his early years, 
and a new view, therefore, of his genius and character. 

In that received account, his sole original biographer, Mr. 
Wirt — writing without any personal knowledge of him, and 
neglecting to consult the most obvious and authentic source of 
information, his four surviving sisters, ladies of condition and of 
remarkable intelligence — has fallen into the vulgar error, to 
which the peculiar position and fortunes of Mr. Henry at first 
gave rise, and which he afterwards, for warrantable political 
purposes, encouraged. When he suddenly burst out from 
complete obscurity, an unrivalled orator, a consummate poli- 
tician, and snatched the control of legislation and of the pub- 
lic mind from the veteran, the college-bred, the wealthy and 
high-born leaders who had till then held it, the homeliness of 
dress which befitted his narrow circumstances, the humility of 



aspect and the simplicity of manners, which were unaffected 
traits of his disposition, naturally assigned him in the eyes 
of both those who were of it and of those who looked down 
upon it, to the plebeian class. It suited the envy of these, it 
delighted the admiration of those, to regard him — that unin- 
telligible marvel of abilities, which had thus all at once effaced 
every thing else — as a mere child of the people. The really 
skilful, who understand intellectual prodigies and never refer 
them to ignorance or chance, must have seen at once, through 
the cloud in which he stood, a great and an enlightened un- 
derstanding, too competent to a high and a complex public 
question, not to be strong in knowledge as well as faculties. 
The few cannot have mistaken him for that fabulous thing, 
an ignorant genius ; for they must have seen in his command- 
ing and complete eloquence the art, in his masterly measures 
the information, of one thoroughly trained, though in secret, 
to the business of swaying men's minds, and of conducting 
their counsels, though hitherto apart from them. All but this 
highest class, however, of the rivals whom he at once threw 
into eclipse naturally sought to depreciate him as a mere de- 
claimer, a tribunitian orator, voluble and vehement as he was 
rude, rash, and illiterate. Could the tapers that, at Belshaz- 
zar's feast, went out before the blaze of that marvellous hand- 
writing on the wall, have been afterwards permitted to give their 
opinion of it, they would, of course, have talked disdainfully of 
its beam, as mere phosphorus or some other low pyrotechnic trick. 
Such was the reputation which the vanquished magnates in gen- 
eral, and their followers, endeavored to fix upon the young sub- 
verter of their ascendency. He was not of one of the old aristo- 
cratic families ; he was a low person, therefore he had never been 


within the walls of a college, still less had he, like many of 
them, finished, with the graces of foreign travel, a public dis- 
cipline of learning ; he was, therefore, by their report, illiter- 
ate, although, certainly, in his performances, all the best ef- 
fects of education were manifest, without its parade. While 
they called him ignorant, he always proved himself to know 
whatever the occasion demanded, and able victoriously to in- 
struct foe and friend. Shunning, from his sense, all assump- 
tion, and from his modesty, all display, he never pulled out 
the purse of his acquirements to chink it merely, but only to 
pay ; so that no man could tell what he had left in the bottom 
of his pocket ; and thus, a ragged-looking Fortunatus, he al- 
ways surprised men with his unguessed resources. Strange 
powers, undoubtedly, he had, that must have not a little con- 
founded the judgment of the best observers ; unexercised in 
the forum, he had risen up a consummate master of the whole 
art of moving in discourse the understanding or the passions ; 
unpractised in public affairs, he had only to appear in them, 
in order to stand the first politician of his day ; unversed in 
the business and the strategy of deliberative assemblies, he had 
only to become a member of one, in order to be its adroitest 
parliamentary tactician. As he was dexterous without prac- 
tice, so was he prudent without experience ; for, from the first 
he shone out as the wisest man in all the public councils. He 
seems to have escaped all that tribute of error which youth 
must almost invariably pay, as the price of eminence in public 
affairs ; he fell into no theory, he indulged no vision, he never 
once committed a blunder ; in short, ripe from the beginning, 
he appeared to be by instinct and the mere gift of nature, 
whatever others slowly become only by the aid of art and expe- 



rience. Bred up in seclusion, though (as the high cultivation 
of Ins sisters testified to all who knew them) in a household 
whose very atmosphere was knowledge, he had, beyond a good 
acquaintance with Latin, the rudiments of Greek, French, 
mathematics, and an early familiarity with the best English 
authors — those of the Elizabethan age, of the Commonwealth, 
and of Queen Anne's day — received little direct instruction ; 
none, but from his father and books, his early companions ? so 
that his scholastic instruction was really slender. But he had 
been taught, betimes, to love knowledge and how to work it 
out for himself; how, in a word, to accomplish what best un- 
folds a great genius, self-education. For schools and colleges 
— admirable contrivances as they are for keeping up among 
mankind a common method and a common stock of informa- 
tion — are but suited, as they were but designed, for the com- 
mon run of men. Applying to all the same mechanical pro- 
cess ; bringing to the same level the genius and the dunce, 
they act excellently to repair the original inequality, some- 
times so vast, with which nature deals out understanding 
among the human race. In a word, they are capital machines 
for bringing about an average of talent ; but it is at the expense 
of those bright parts which occasionally come, that they do it. 
Their methods clap in the same couples him who can but 
creep and him who would soar ; harness in the same cart the 
plough-horse and the courser. The highest genius must be 
its own sole method-maker, its own entire rule. From what 
it has done, rules are deduced ; but for its inferiors, not for 
it : its whole existence is exceptional, original ; and whatever, 
in its disciplining, would tend to make it otherwise, serves but 
to check and to diminish its development. 


No greater error, therefore, than to suppose that a man as 
extraordinary as Patrick Henry, who, mature from the first, 
rose up a consummate speaker and reasoner, and, amongst 
men of large abilities, knowledge, and experience, constantly 
showed himself, in matters the weightiest and the most diffi- 
cult, superior to them all, could have been uneducated. In 
reality he had learned of the best possible master, for such a 
man — himself. That he knew, that he even knew more sol- 
idly, because more effectually and to the purpose, than all 
those around him, the great subjects with which he dealt so 
wonderfully, is beyond all question. Now, though the genius 
of Mr. Henry was prodigious, and though there be things 
which genius does, as it were, intuitively and spontaneously, 
there are other things which are not knowable, even by genius 
itself, without study ; which the utmost genius cannot extem- 
porize, cannot produce from nothing, cannot make without 
their materials previously amassed in its mind, cannot under- 
stand without their necessary particulars accumulated in ad- 
vance; and it was in just such things — the highest civil 
ability, which comes of wisdom, not genius ; the greatest elo- 
quence which cannot be formed but by infinite art and labor — 
that he stood up at all times supreme. The sagacity of 
statesmanship with which he looked through the untried af- 
fairs of this country, saw through systems and foretold conse- 
quences, has never been surpassed ; and his eloquence, judged 
(as we have alone the means of judging it) by its effects, has 
never been equalled. 

Such then, even upon the traditionary facts out of which 
his biographer has shaped into a mere fable his sudden rise 
and his anomalous abilities, is, of necessity, the rational theory 



of Mr. Henry's greatness. But, without any resort to induc- 
tion, the simple truth, if Mr. Wirt had sought it in the na- 
tural quarter, would have conducted him to the same conclu- 
sions as we have just set forth. 

At the time when Mr. Wirt collected his materials, he was 
yet, though of fine natural abilities, by no means the solid man 
that he by and by became. His fancy was exuberant, his 
taste florid, his judgment unformed. Himself in high repute 
for a youthful and gaudy eloquence, which, however, he after- 
wards exchanged for a style of great severity and vigor — he 
had been urged to his immature and ambitious undertaking, 
by admirers who conceived him to be little less than a second 
Henry. His besetting idea seems to be much akin to Dr. 
Johnson's "who drives fat oxen should himself be fat : " namely 
that the life of a great orator should be written by a great 
orator ; and that he was to show not only Mr. Henry but him- 
self eloquent. In general his book does him credit, as merely 
a literary performance, although sadly deformed, in what were 
intended for its best passages, by an inflation of which he must 
have been afterwards greatly ashamed, as a sin against all 
style, but especially that proper to his subject — the historic. 
Let us add — in simple justice to a man of great virtues and ele- 
vation, as well as gentleness of mind and feelings, whose mem- 
ory has upon us, besides, the claim of public respect and of 
hereditary friendship — that his biography, wherever his own, is ; 
in spite of party spirit, written with the most honorable candor, 
and vindicates Mr. Henry with equal fairness and ability from 
the aspersions cast upon his conduct in the " Alien and Sedi- 
tion " business by the Jeffersonian faction. Wherever he (Mr. 
Wirt) has depended upon his own researches alone, he displays 


both diligence and discrimination ; but unhappily, he accepted 
the loose popular traditions, which are never any thing but a 
tissue of old women's talcs ; he relied upon a mass of casual 
contributions, chiefly derived from the same legendary sources 
or from uncertain, confused, and (as himself lets us see) often 
contradictory memories ; and above all, he adopted implicitly 
the information supplied by a certain Thomas Jefferson ; who, 
besides being a person of whom the sagacious and uprigkt 
Henry cherished a very ill opinion — so that he could not well 
be supposed a very special repository of the orator's personal 
confidences — was a gentleman who had all his fife driven rather 
the largest and most lucrative trade in the calumny of nearly 
all the best and greatest of his contemporaries, that has ever 
been carried on in these United States, much as that sort of 
commerce has long flourished and yet flourishes amongst us. 
Upon such things he had come to a splendid political fortune 
while he lived, and when he died, with a pious solicitude to 
provide for his posterity, he bequeathed to his grandson all the 
unspent capital stock of his slanders (his Memoirs and Ana) to 
carry on the old business with and keep up the greatness of 
the family. 

The effect of all this was to turn what before was strange 
or obscure, in Henry's history, into little better than a fable, 
a sort of popular and poetic myth of eloquence, in which the 
great speaker and statesman fades away into a fiction, a mere 
creation of the fancy, scarcely more real or probable than the 
account in old Master Tooke's " Pantheon," of Orpheus's draw- 
ing the rocks and trees and the very wild beasts along with 
him by his powers of song. Nay, in one main point, Master 
Tooke's legend more consults verisimilitude : for he, instead of 



shocking all probability by representing his hero to have been 
without education, sends him as private pupil to the Muses 
themselves, who are reputed to have kept, then as now, the best 
Greek and Latin colleges a-going. 

It is certainly true, in excuse for all this, that the mighty 
men who, for their exploits and services, became the demi- 
gods of fable, "the fair humanities of old religion," had 
scarcely more struck the excited imagination of their times 
than had Henry. Like theirs was the obscurity of his birth, 
the mystery of his education, the marvel of his achievements. 
Of his many great speeches, scarcely one uncorrupted passage 
can be said to survive ; so that even of that which all felt and 
know we have but the faintest shadow. A fragmentary 
thought is all of genuine that is left us out of a whole immor- 
tal harangue ; some powerful ejaculation stands for an entire 
oration, and dimly suggests, not explains its astonishing effects. 
To all purpose historic of his eloquence, he might just as well 
have lived before alphabetic writing was invented. At best, 
the oratory that entrances, agitates, enraptures, transports 
every man in a whole assembly, and hurries him totally away, 
thrilling and frenzied with sensations as vehement as novel, 
sets all reporting, all stenography at defiance. Before it, short- 
hand — at most, the dim reflection of such things ; a cold copy, 
a poor parody where it is not a burlesque of speech in its great 
bursts — drops its pen, and forgets even to translate ; which, 
after all Qiaud inexpertus loquor), is the utmost it can do. 
But of not even such translation did Mr. Henry, upon any oc- 
casion but two,* receive the advantage such as it is. Every 

* The debates in the Virginia Convention on the Federal Constitution, and 
his forensic argument against the recovery of the forfeited British debts. 


where in these the single but skilful reporter confesses, by many 
a summary in parenthesis, that at certain passages he lost 
himself in the speaker, and could not even attempt to render 
him. Thus it comes that, of his transcendent harangues — 
those which made or directed the Revolution — we have only a 
few scattered sentences, and the seemingly amazed descriptions 
which attest their extraordinary effects. There is but one ex- 
ception : a version, to appearance tolerably entire, though still 
evidently but a sketch, of his "Liberty or Death" speech, 
when, on the 20th March, 1775, he told the Convention of 
Virginia, assembled in the " Old Church " at Richmond (St. 
Johns), that " they must fight," and moved to arm and organ- 
ize the militia. This, even in its existing form, is a prodi- 
giously noble speech, full of vigor in the argument, full of pas- 
sion in the appeals, breathing every where the utmost fire of 
the warrior, orator, patriot, and sage. Fitly uttered, it is still 
— though of course it must have lost greatly in the transmis- 
sion — a discourse to rouse a whole nation invincibly to arms, 
if their cause and their courage were worthy of it. That 
speech evidently, and that speech alone, is, in the main, the 
true thunder of Henry : all the others are but the mustard- 

But though from all these causes, he already, in Mr. Wirt's 
day, stood, as seen through the fast-gathered haze of tradition, 
a huge but shadowy figure, it was the business of the biogra- 
pher, instead of merely showing him to us in that popular 
light, to set him in a true one. The critical historian clears 
up such mists, defines such shadows, and calls them back not 
only to substance but proportion, color, life, the very pressure 
and body of the times. What if the historic truth had passed 

Old Church, Richmond, Va. 



into a poetic fable ? Mr. Wirt should have dealt with it, not 
as a bard, a rhapsodist, but a philosophical mythologist, who 
from fable itself sifts out the unwritten facts of a day, when 
fable was the only form of history. 

Besides, however, adopting for the fundamental facts of 
Mr. Henry's character all these false sources, his biographer 
utterly neglected (as we have already intimated) the most ob- 
vious and the most natural ones. He had then four surviving 
sisters, women not merely of condition but intellectually re- 
markable. To none of these did Mr. Wirt resort for any do- 
mestic particulars of his early life, which of course none knew 
so well as they. Well acquainted with them all — sprung from 
one of them — we have cause to know the astonishment with 
which they met this written account of his early years and his 
breeding up. Had Mr. Wirt personally known these highly 
cultivated and very superior ladies, distinguished as they were 
for the completeness and solidity of their old-fashioned educa- 
tion, he must have seen at once that his own story of Henry's 
youthful institution and ways is about as true as it is that 
Achilles was born of a sea-goddess, had a centaur for his private 
tutor, and was fed upon lion's marrow to make him valiant. 

His very lineage was literary. His father, John Henry, a 
Scottish gentleman of Aberdeen, was a man of good birth, of 
learned education, and, when he migrated to Virginia, of easy 
fortune. He was the nephew of Robertson, the great historian 
of his own country and of ours. The name of his mother, 
J ane Robertson, an admirable and accomplished person, is still 
preserved and transmitted among her female descendants. 
His cousin, David Henry, was the associate editor of the 
"Gentleman's Magazine," then a leading publication, with 


Edward Cave, the last of the learned printers ; whose brother- 
in-law and successor he became. The family bred many of 
its members for the church, which in Britain implies such in- 
fluence as secures preferment. John's younger brother, Patrick, 
thus taking orders, received a rectorship near him, and followed 
him to this country. In those days of Episcopacy, benefices 
drew after them not merely comfortable reverence, but goodly 
emolument and even authority in civil life ; so that the par- 
sons were a power in the State. All this Patrick, a man wor- 
thy of it, employed. His brother already possessed it ; and 
thus both took their station among the gentry, though not the 
aristocracy, of the land — its untitled nobility : for, in effect, 
such an order, sustained by primogeniture and entails, then ex- 
isted throughout lower or tide-water Virginia. 

John attained to the command of the regiment of his 
county, to its surveyorship, and to the presiding chair of its 
magistracy ; stations then never conferred but upon leading 
men in the community. More careless, however, of his private 
interests than of the public, without exactly wasting his for- 
tune, he gradually frittered it away ; and though he repaired 
it for a time, by an advantageous marriage with the young and 
wealthy widow (a Winston by birth) of his most intimate 
friend, Col. John Syme, of the Kocky Mills, yet before the 
tenth year of Patrick, his second son (born 29th May, 1736), 
he found himself so straitened as to have need to make himself 
an income by setting up in Iris house a private classical school. 
Assisted to this by the reputation of being one of the best 
scholars in the country, he taught for a number of years with 
great approval the children of his friends and his own ; aban- 
doning the pursuit only when one of its inducements — the 



education of his own sons and daughters (two of the former 
and five of the latter) — had ceased. 

Under such circumstances, and especially when we repeat 
that those four of his daughters whom we knew were persons 
greatly admired for the masculine goodness and extent of their 
education, it may be judged how likely, how possible it is that 
Patrick, with his boundless aptitude — always, in after life, ap- 
plied most rapidly and successfully to whatever he had need 
to understand — can have grown up to manhood almost unin- 
structed, ignorant, and idle. Genius, of which it is the very 
essence that it has an uncontrollable affinity for the knowledge 
proper to its caste, has often been seen to surmount obstacles 
seemingly invincible to its information ; never yet wilfully, in- 
corrigibly, and in spite of every influence around, to shut out 
the open and easy daylight of intelligence, and darken itself 
into voluntary duncedom. The thing, we repeat is a flat, a 
bald and a flagrant impossibility. You might as well tell us 
that a young eagle, instead of taking to the sky as soon as its 
pinions were grown, has, though neither caged nor clipped, re- 
mained contented on foot and preferred to run about the barn- 
yard with the dunghill fowls. No! your "mute Miltons" 
and your harmless Cromwells sound very prettily to the fancy, 
but in plain fact, were no Miltons unless they sang, no Crom- 
wells unless they conquered. Genius and Heroism — the most 
strenuous of human things — were never dull, slothful, idle ; 
never slighted opportunity, but always make, if they do not 
find it. 

Accordingly, the sisters of Mr. Henry always asserted that, 
whatever their brother might ai3pear abroad, he was a close 
voluntary student at home ; exploring not only his father's li- 


brary, which was large and good, but whatever other books he 
could lay his hands upon ; dwelling, with an especial delight, 
upon certain great authors, of whom he seemed to make his 
masters; but cultivating assiduously what was then called 
"polite learning," and merited the name, along with history 
at large, and that of the free states of antiquity, and of 
England in particular. His great favorites were Livy and 
Virgil ; not (as Mr. Wirt supposes of the former) in a transla- 
tion, but the original. That the sisters were right on this 
point is sufficiently proved by the fact that, a few years ago, 
his Latin Virgil was in existence, its margins all filled with his 
manuscript notes. We need hardly say that he who was not 
content with Dryden as a translator was clearly not a-going to 
take up with poor old Philemon Holland, then the current 
English disfigurer of the most animated and picturesque of 
historians. Henry's sisters indeed, and the only one of his 
schoolfellows that we have ever met, were persuaded that he 
read Latin almost as readily as English. Mr. Wirt himself 
had learned that the great Paduan was ever in his boyish 
hands ; now, that single point established, he might without 
hesitation have proceeded to five clear and important infer- 
ences : first, that no boy has a favorite book but because he is 
fond of books generally ; secondly, that when his favorite is, 
though of the highest merit, a very unusual one, he must not 
only have read much, but with great discrimination : thirdly, 
that if his favorite was in a special class (not a mere miscel- 
lanist) he was well read in that class, addicted to it : fourthly, 
that he was enamored of such a favorite for his matchless 
merits, both of matter and of style ; his sensibility to the for- 
mer of which particulars implied information, to the latter a 


well-formed taste : fifthly, that no mere translation of Livy — 
especially not flat, tame old Holland — nothing short of the 
golden original, could have inspired such a Livian affection. 
But this is not all ; when — coming to be put into the posses- 
sion of the scanty remaining body of Mr. Henry's papers (ill- 
preserved by his not very wise j)rogeny) and invited to write 
his life more authentically — we ourselves began first to study 
his speeches and his mind critically, it did not take us long to 
perceive, what is indeed easily seen, that Mr. Henry's early 
passion for Livy — born of course of Livy's conformity to Ins ge- 
nius — had deeply tinged the peculiar style of his eloquence, 
the peculiar character of his politics, was, in sooth, the imme- 
diate source of both ; that the harangues in Livy had been 
his models of discourse ; that the sentiments of public mag- 
nanimity, w T hich Livy every where, and we may say Livy alone 
breathes, were transfused into Henry's spirit, and gave to his 
ideas of a state that singular grandeur, that loftiness, that he- 
roism, which fills and informs them. His love of freedom even — 
his republicanism — was such as Livy's ; popular, yet patrician : 
not your levelled liberty, too low to last, which, to keep down 
the naturally great, sets up the base on high ; but a freedom 
consistent with the eminence and the subordination of natural 
orders mutually dependent ; equal under the law, but distinct 
in their power to serve the state, as bringing to its aid, this 
rank higher counsels and obligations, that, force and numbers ; 
in short, not merely a tumultuary, a mob liberty, but a social 
and a regulated concert of all classes, the absolute predomi- 
nance of none ; a republican, not a democratic aim. Less 
learned than Milton, certainly, but of a highly kindred spirit, 
he was very like him in his general political system ; but was 


more practical, better acquainted with men. The one had 
more of the poetical element in him, the other more of the 
political. Both were deeply religions ; without which no man 
can he a safe politician. Each towered above all the men of 
his day, except one, a warrior ; and nearly such relation as 
Milton held to Cromwell did Henry hold to Washington. 
Alike in the antique cast of their minds, they were yet alike 
in being, withal, thoroughly English in their notion of actual 
freedom : for Henry's mind was just as little touched with any 
of the Jeffersonian fancies of Frenchified liberty as Milton's 
own. Both were of the historic, not the so-called philosophic 
school of politics : for history was evidently the only treatise 
on government that either thought worthy of any attention. 
If they had ever stooped to the systematic writers, from the 
great sources (wise histories) out of which those writers can at 
most draw, it can only have been to despise nearly every mo- 
ther's son of them. Finally, alike in so many things, they 
were not unhke in their fate : both "fell upon evil times," and 
lost their public credit in the land of which they had match- 
lessly vindicated the public cause : Milton died sightless, and 
Henry too blind for the light of the Virginia abstractions. 

Every thing confutes the vulgar theory of his greatness. 
Had he been ignorant at his first rise, the growth of his talent, 
as well as of his knowledge, would have been traceable in his 
performances ; but on the contrary, he burst out, from the 
first, mature and finished. By the universal consent, his 
very earliest speeches were quite equal to any thing he ever 
after pronounced. Had these been at sixteen, it would go far 
to prove that his eloquence, his ability, aud even his informa- 
tion came (as such tilings never came in any other instance) 
without cultivation : but his first speech, that in " the parson's 



cause/' at Hanover Court House, in 1763, when he was twenty- 
nine years old ; the same period of life at which Demosthenes 
and Cicero shone out ; a period after which there may be large 
additions to artificial knowledge, but can seldom be any to the 
natural splendor of the facidties. 

We have known many who knew Mr. Henry, in the entire 
unreserve of that domestic life, in which he so much loved to 
unbend himself. All such agreed that he was a man of very 
great and very various information. He read every thing. 
At home, his interval between an early dinner and supper- 
time (after which he gave himself up to conversation with his 
friends, or to sport with his children, or to music on the violin 
and flute, which he played) was always consecrated to study : 
he withdrew from company to his office and books. His very 
manner of reading was such as few attain, and marks the great 
and skilful dealer with other men's thoughts : he seldom read 
a book regularly on ; but seemed only to glance his eye down 
the pages, and, as it were, to gallop athwart the volume ; and 
yet, when he had thus strid through it, knew better than any 
body else all that was worth knowing in it contents. A 
learned physician who dwelt near him, told us, in speaking of 
this wide range of his knowledge, that he had, for instance, to 
his surprise, found him to be a good chemist, at a time when 
an acquaintance with that science was almost confined to 
medical men. Except in private, however, he kept the secret 
of his own attainments, content to let them appear only in 
their effects. This was, originally, out of his singular mo- 
desty ; but by and by when his vanquished rivals of college- 
breeding sought to depreciate him as low-born and uneducated, 
he from policy conformed to imputations which heightened the 
wonder of his performances and therefore added to his success. 


Let us add one more fact, substantive and significant. 
The range of a man's mind, the very particulars of his studies 
may usually, when he is not a mere book-collector or other af- 
fector of letters, be pretty definitely ascertained from the con- 
tents of his library. In that view, finding that a list of Mr. 
Henry's was embraced in the records of the Court of Probate 
of his county, we examined and copied it. For that day, his 
library, besides its merely professional contents, is quite a large 
one — some five hundred volumes, mostly good and solid. We 
found it to contain the usual series of Greek school-books, pro- 
bably all he had ever read ; for the language was then slightly 
learnt in Virginia : a good many of the Latin authors, and va- 
rious French ones. The last language we know, from other 
sources, that he understood. Now, he was the man in the 
world the least likely to have got or to keep books that he did 
not comprehend. 

Such was the enigma of Patrick Henry's mind ; and such 
is its clear solution : a solution which, at least, must be con- 
fessed to substitute the rational for the irrational, the possible 
for the impossible, the positive of domestic evidence for the 
negative of popular tradition. 

Apart, however, from such testimony, there were other 
proofs that should have suggested themselves to the anatomist 
of his character, the physiologist of his genius. When we 
ourselves first began minutely to consider his speeches, their 
effects, all that is told of the manner in which those effects 
were brought about, the reach and the diversity of his powers, 
their admirable adaptation to all occasions and to all audi- 
ences — for he swayed all men alike by his eloquence, the low 
and the high, the ignorant and the learned ; the unapproached 



dramatic perfection of his voice, gesture, manner, and whole 
delivery ; his mastery, not only in speech, but off the tribune 
and man to man, of all that can affect either men's reason or 
their imagination, we could not, for our lives, help coming to 
the conclusion that all this must be skill, not chance ; and that 
instead of being the mere child of nature, he was the most 
consummate artist that ever lived. Nature bestows marvel- 
lous things, but these are not within even her gift. She gives 
the gold, but she does not work it into every beautiful form ; 
she gives the diamond, but she does not cut it ; she bestows 
the marble, but did not carve the Olympian Jove nor the Bel- 
videre Apollo. In fine, we had, in much acquaintance with 
men the ornaments of the public life of our times, been accus- 
tomed to understand all the minute mechanism of civil abili- 
ties ; and when we came to examine closely this matchless 
piece of machinery, we could not avoid believing, in spite of all 
assertions to the contrary, that each particular part, however 
nice and small, must have been made by hand and most pain- 
fully put together. And thus, perceiving eveiy thing else in 
this prodigious speaker to have been so masterly, we became 
convinced that his style, his diction must have been, in the 
main, as excellent as every thing else about him. It could not 
have been otherwise. He whose thought was so high and 
pure, whose fancy was so rich, and the mere outward auxilia- 
ries of whose discourse (voice, and action) had been so labori- 
ously perfected, can, by no possibility, have failed to make him- 
self equally the master of expression. What we have as his, 
is mere reporter's English ; and no man is to be judged by 
that slop of sentences into which he is put and melted away 
by their process. In that menstruum of words, all substances 
are alike. It is the true universal solvent, so long sought, that 


acts upon every thing and turns it into liquid babble. Mr. 
Henry knew and often practised, not only upon the multitude 
but the refined, the power of a homely dialect, and saw how 
wise or brave or moving things may be made to come with a 
strangely redoubled effect, in the extremest plainness of rustic 
speech. His occasional resort to this, however, of course 
struck much upon the common attention and got him the 
reputation, among other foolish reputations, of habitually using 
such locutions ; when, in reality, he was master of all modes 
of discourse alike, and only employed always that which best 
suited his purpose. 

There is yet one more false notion, in regard to him, which 
Mr. Wirt has done much to propagate : the notion, we mean, 
that Henry never condescended to be less than the great ora- 
tor ; that, instead of sometimes going about his business on 
foot, like other lawyers and legislators, he rode for ever in a 
sort of triumphal car of eloquence, dragging along a captive 
crowd at his conquering wheels ; and, in short, that 

"He could not ope 
His mouth, but out there flew a trope." 

On the contrary, no man was ever less the oration-maker. 
He never used his eloquence but as he used every thing else — 
just when it was wanted. In the mass of public business, 
eloquence is out of place, and could not be attended to. A 
man who was always eloquent would soon lose all authority in 
a public body. Mr. Henry kept up always the very greatest, 
and merited it, by taking a leading part in all important mat- 
ters and making more and better business speeches than any 
body else. 

A long preliminary this ; but we trust not uninteresting. 



It was, at any event, necessary that we should first, in the 
Bentonian phrase, " vindicate the truth of history," and set a 
great character in its proper public light, before passing to those 
humble particulars of private life to which we now proceed. 

In person, he was tall and rather spare, but of limbs round 
enough for either vigor or grace. He had, however, a slight 
stoop, such as very thoughtful people are apt to contract. In 
public, his aspect was remarkable for quiet gravity. It seems 
to have been a rule with him never to laugh and hardly to 
smile, before the vulgar. In their presence he wore an air al- 
ways fit to excite at once their sympathy and their reverence ; 
modest, even to humility ; and yet most imposing. In all this 
he played no assumed, though he could not have played a more 
skilful part : for the occasion and the presence appear always 
to have so duly and so strongly affected him, as at once to 
transform him into what was, at each instant, fittest. Thus 
his art, of which we have already spoken, might well be con- 
summate ; for he was all that, for mere purposes of effect, he 
should have seemed to be, the very impersonation of the cause 
and the feelings proper to the hour. Great wisdom, indeed, 
an unshrinking courage, and yet an equal prudence, a patriot- 
ism the most fervent, a profound sensibility, a rare love of jus- 
tice, yet a spirit of the greatest gentleness and humanity, and 
in a word, the highest virtues, public and private, crowned 
with a disinterestedness, an absence of all ambition most sin- 
gular in a democracy (which above all things breeds the con- 
trary) made him — if Cicero be right — the greatest of orators, 
because the most virtuous of men that ever possessed that na- 
tural gift. No man ever knew men better, singly or in the 
mass ; none ever better knew how to sway them : but none 
ever less abused that power, for he seems ever to have felt, in 


a religious force, the solemnity of all those public functions, 
which so few now regard. It was probably the weight of this 
feeling, along with his singular modesty, that made him shun 
official honors as earnestly as others seek them. It is evident 
that no power, nor dignity, nor even fame could dazzle him. 
It was only at the public command that he accepted trusts 
from his State ; and he always laid them down as soon as duty 
permitted. All offers of Federal dignities,""" up to the highest, 
he rejected. He had served his State only in perilous times, 
when (as the Devil says in Milton) to be highest was only to 
be exposed foremost to the bolts of the dreaded enemy ; or at 
some conjuncture of civil danger ; but when peace and ease 
had come and ambition was the only lure to office, he would 
not have it. 

If, however, he was thus grave, on what he considered the 
solemn stage of public life, he made himself ample amends in 
all that can give cheerfulness to the calm of retirement in the 
country. When at last permitted to attend to his private for- 
tune, he speedily secured an ample one. It was enjoyed, 
whenever business allowed him to be at home, in a profuse 
and general, but solid and old-fashioned hospitality, of which 
the stout and semi-baronial supplies were abundantly drawn 
from his own large and well-managed domain. His house was 
usually rilled with friends, its dependencies with their retinue 

* He is said ( Wirt, p. 404) to have been offered by Washington the Secre- 
taryship of State and the embassy to Spain. He certainly was, by him, also 
offered the War Department, and by Mr. Adams the embassy to France. These 
are known. "When the papers of Alexander Hamilton come to be published 
down to those of 1796, it will be seen that he was then offered, by the heads 
of the Federal party, through John Marshall the nomination for the Presi- 
dency, as "Washington's successor, but declined it. 



and horses. But crowds, besides, came and went ; all were re- 
ceived and entertained with cordiality. The country all about 
thronged to see the beloved and venerated man, as soon as it 
went abroad that he was come back. Some came merely to 
see him ; the rest to get his advice on law and all other mat- 
ters. To the poor, it was gratuitous ; to even the rich without 
a fee, except where he thought the case made it necessary to 
go to law. All took his counsel as if it had been an oracle's, 
for nobody thought there was any measure to " Old Patrick's" 
sense, integrity, or good nature. This concourse began rather 
betimes, for those who lived near often came to breakfast, where 
all were welcomed and made full. The larder seemed never 
to get lean. Breakfast over, creature-comforts, such as might 
console the belated for its loss, were presently set forth on side- 
tables in the wide entrance hall. Of these; — the solid, not the 
liquid parts of a rural morning's meal — breakfast without its 
slops, and such as, if need were, might well stand for a dinner, 
all further comers helped themselves as the day or their ap- 
petites advanced. Meanwhile, the master saw and welcomed 
all with the kindliest attention, asked of their household, lis- 
tened to their affairs, gave them his view, contented all. These 
audiences seldom ceased before noon or the early dinner. To 
this a remaining party of from twenty, to thirty often sat down. 
It was always, according to the wont of such houses in that well- 
fed land, a meal beneath which the tables groaned, and whose 
massive old Saxon dishes would have made a Frenchman sweat. 
Every thing is excellent at these lavish feasts ; but they have 
no luxuries save such as are home-grown. They are, however, 
for all that is substantial and plain, the very summit of good 

cheer. At Governor Henry's, they never failed to be, besides, 


seasoned with his conversation, which at table always grew gay 
and even gamesome. The dinner ended, he betook himself, as 
already told, to his studies until supper, after which he again 
gave himself up to enjoyment. In this manner came, with 
the kindliest and most cheerful approach, the close of his days; 
upon which there rested not a stain nor (such had been 
through life his personal benignity) a hostility. Except ty- 
rants and other public enemies, he had lived at peace with man 
and God, achieving most surprising and illustrious things, and 
content, save the sight of his liberated country, with little re- 
ward beyond that which he bore in his own approving bosom. 

If a & i s n ♦ 


SCIENCE has had, and perhaps will ever have, its fancies ; 
and fancy has often aspired to hecome science ; for be- 
tween the two — wide apart as they are said to lie — stretches 
an uncertain domain, which they seem alternately to occupy 
by incursion, and of which, when thus seized upon, each ap- 
pears, oddly enough, often to take possession in the rival name 
of the other. Thus Astronomy, growing visionary, has pre- 
tended to trace from the aspects of the heavenly bodies, not 
merely their laws and motions, but the vicissitudes of human 
fate ; and chemistry has had its poetic visions of an elixir of 


life and of the philosopher's stone ; while, on the other hand, 
mere imagination has quite as often attempted to erect, out 
of the airiest things, a jmilosophic realm of her own, and to 
deduce into positive sciences the bumps upon the human skull, 
the freaks of Nature in the conformation of the features, and 
even the whimsical diversities of people's handwriting. From 
all these have been set up grave methods of arriving at a know- 
ledge of men's faculties and characters. 

It is surprising that, among these fantastic systems of 
physiognomy, that easy and natural one should never have 
been set on foot, which might connect the structural efforts of 
individuals with the cast of their minds and feelings. To do 
this would be especially easy in new countries, where nearly 
every one is compelled to build his own abode, and where, for 
the most part, there is so little of architectural solidity that 
habitations seldom last for above a generation, and even he Who 
inherits a house inherits but a ruin. Thus the simplicity of 
Patrick Henry's habits and tastes might be inferred from the 
primitiveness of his dwelling. You might have guessed his 
unambitiousness from the absence about his home of any thing 
that betrayed a longing for grandeur. All was plain, substan- 
tial, good ; nothing ostentatious or effeminate. The master's 
personal desires coveted nothing beyond rural abundance and 
comforts — such blessings as are quite enough to make private 
life happy and preserve it uncorrupt. In all this you might 
discern the public man who cherished, as a politician, no vi- 
sions, no novelties ; sought, of course, to build up for his fel- 
low-citizens no other nor better happiness than such as crowned 
all his own wishes ; believed little in pomp and greatness ; loved 
our old hereditary laws, manners, liberties, victuals; and 



dreaded French principles and dishes as alike contaminating 
and destructive. 

Man, as we have already intimated, is a constructive ani- 
mal. He alone is properly such. For the inferior creatures 
that build do so upon a single, instinctive, invariable method, 
always using the same material ; he, rationally and inventively, 
as outward circumstances may require, or as, when these con- 
strain him little, his individual fancy, desires, or judgment may 
prompt. In the nomadic state a tent of skins, a lodge of bark, 
are the sole structures for shelter that fit his wandering life ; 
and the rudeness of these invites to no decoration, while con- 
venience itself forbids all diversity of contrivance for him, who, 
paying no ground-rent, may decamp to-morrow ; and, bound 
by no leasehold, may carry his tenement with him, like that 
travelling landlord, Master Snail, or abandon it like that lodger 
by the season, Dame Bird. In short, he comes not under the 
terms of zoological or botanical description, as having a habitat; 
under the line he lives, as did father Adam and mother Eve 
(whose housekeeping in Eden, Milton so well relates), in a 
bower of rose and myrtle ; at the pole, he burrows beneath 
the snow or makes his masonry of ice ; in Idumea, he dwells, 
like its lions, in a cavern ; on the Maranon, he perches his 
house in a tree-top, and his young ones — plumeless bipeds 
though they be — nestle among the feathered denizens of the 
mid-air ; in certain mining regions, he is born and dies hun- 
dreds of fathoms under ground, and perhaps never sees the 
light of day ; in Naples, he lives, as do the dogs and cats of 
Constantinople, in the streets. Thus, whatever idea, whatever 
purpose, whatever need, whatever fancy, predominates in him 
when he builds, it takes shape, it finds expression, it embodies 


itself, forthwith, in fitting material, fittingly contrived, and is, 
according to his habitative wish, his taste in a tabernacle, pos- 
sibly a pig-sty, possibly a palace ; for his range of invention 
stretches over every thing that lies between the two. 

The founders of the great commonwealths of antiquity — 
the Grecian statesmen and warriors, the Konian consuls — 
lived at home, during the most glorious period of their several 
states, in an extreme simplicity; content with a truly noble 
penury, while they built up the grandeur of their countiy. 
The constructive propensity of the Athenian instead of a pri- 
vate direction towards his personal gratification, took the gen- 
erous form of a passion for public momunents ; that of the 
Eoman turned itself, until the decline of the Kepublic began, 
upon the rearing of trophies and triumphal arches, rather than 
of lordly mansions; and dictators sometimes, consuls often, 
were called from the cot and the plough to the supreme trusts 
of war and peace. But this was all in the spirit of ages and 
institutions, when the citizen lived in the state and sought his 
private, in the public greatness and happiness. Modern times 
present few individual instances of the like. In those ancient 
politics, the state leaned on the citizen ; in our modern, the 
citizen leans on the state. Then, public life was much, pri- 
vate life was little ; now, it is reversed, the citizen wants not 
to help the state, but wants the state to help him. Now, 
over-civilization has so multiplied the conveniences of life, and 
habit has rendered its indulgences so necessary, that he who, 
being great, can five without and above them, has need to be 
of a rare elevation, an inherent grandeur of soul. 

The statesman whose mansion and whose habits in retreat 
we are about to describe, without being altogether of that he- 



roical cast of mind which graced the character of a Washing- 
ton, a Henry, or a Clay, had yet much of that elevated sim- 
plicity which marks the highest strain of greatness. Mr. 
Madison, when he laid down what he had so worthily and 
wisely worn as to have disarmed all previous reproach and hos- 
tility — the supreme dignity of the Union — returned quietly to 
his hereditary abode, resumed the unaffected citizen, and 
seemed to be as glad to forget his past greatness as to escape 
from the anxieties and envy that attend power as shadows do 
the sun. He went back, after his stormy but successful presi- 
dency of eight years, to his father's seat, Montpelier, where, 
but for the accident — the same which befell a hero of Irish 
song, Denis Brulgruddery — of his mother's being on a visit to 
her mamma at the time, he would certainly have been born. 
There, like a sensible man, and a good fellow to boot (as he 
was), he sat down on a fine plantation, in a good old-fashioned 
house, with a fine old cellar of old-fashioned wines under it, 
and the best old Virginian servants in it, to spend the rest 
of his days upon that wise plan which King Pyrrhus proposed 
to himself, but, postponing too long, did not five to execute. 
He (that is, Mr. Madison, not Pyrrhus) sat down like an actor 
who has played out his part with applause, calmly to look at 
the rest of the piece, no further concerned in its business, but 
not affecting (as others have done) the uninterested spectator 
of the performance. He did not assume the philosophic sage ; 
he did not bury himself in a monastic gloom like Charles V. : 
nor, like the same discrowned prince and Mr. Jefferson, betake 
himself to mending watches ; nor, like Dioclesian, to cultivating 
cabbages ; but in the bosom of that pleasant retreat, which had 
witnessed his youthful preparation for public toils, sought the re- 


pose from them which he had fairly earned ; and sweetening it 
with all that could give it zest, in the companionship of the 
amiable wife who had shared with him and adorned public 
honors, and in the society of the many personal friends that 
his virtues and talents drew about him, passed the evening of 
his days in gentlemanly and genial ease and hospitality. 

Montpelier, the residence to which, as an only child, he 
had succeeded at his father's death, is a plain but ample, and 
rather handsome habitation of brick, around which spreads 
out, in such undulations of gently-waving swells and irregular 
plains as pleasantly diversify the view, a fertile domain of some 
two thousand six hundred acres ; a part of it well cultivated, 
but a still larger part yet in all the wildness of nature. The 
region is one where she has shed, in great beauty, the softest 
picturesque of hill and dale, forest and glade. At hand, in 
the rear, rises, as if to adorn the prospect with bolder contrasts, 
the gracefully wavering chain of the southwest mountain, to 
fence on one side the vale of Orange and Albemarle, on whose 
southeastern edge of nodding woods and* green fields Mont- 
pelier lies embosomed and embowered; while on the other 
side, in the airy distance beyond that vale, tower in fantastic 
line the blue peaks of the long Apalachian ridge, breaking the 
horizon, as if to form another and a more fanciful one. The 
wide scene, caught in glimpses through the mantling trees, or 
opening out in the larger vista of farm beyond farm, or shining 
in loftier prospect above the tree-tops and the low hills, offers 
to the ranging eye, many a charming view, — sweet spots of 
pastoral beauty; jutting capes and copses, or nodding old 
groves of woodlands ; the rich and regular cultivation of 
spreading plantations, amidst which glisten now a stately 



mansion, and now a snug farm-house, each decorated with its 
peculiar growth of trees for shade or fruit ; and far away, 
mountain regions, whose heights, and whose rude and massy 
but undefined forms, suggest to the fancy the savage grandeur 
of that remoter landscape which the eye knows to he there, 
though it mocks the sight with what is so different. All these 
are, at frequent points, the aspects of that fine country from 
Orange court-house up to Charlottesville ; they are nowhere 
seen in greater perfection or abundance than just around Mont- 
pelier. At almost every turn, one discovers a new pleasure of 
the landscape ; at nearly every step, there is a surprise. It 
looks like a realm of pictures ; you would almost think that 
not nature had placed it there, but that the happiest skill of 
the painter had collected and disposed the scenes. 

The house, we have said, is plain and large. Its size and 
finish bespeak gentlemanly but unpretending ease and fortune. 
It has no air of assumed lordliness or upstart pretension. No 
foreign models seem to have been consulted in its design, no 
proportions of art studied ; yet it wants not symmetry as well- 
planned convenience, comfort, and fitness lend, as if without 
intention. A tall, and rather handsome columned portico, in 
front, is the only thing decorative about it ; but is not enough 
so to be at all out of keeping. It is of the whole height of 
the central building, of two stories, and covers about half its 
length of some forty-five feet. Broad steps, five in number, 
support and give access along its entire front. Its depth is 
about one-third its width. The main building itself is a paral- 
lelogram, near half as deep as it is long. At each flank, a little 
receding, is a single-storied wing of about twenty feet, its flat 
roof surmounted by a balustrade. The house stands on a 


gently-rising eminence. A wide lawn, broken only here and 
there by clumps of trees, stretches before it. On either side 
are irregular masses of these, of different shajDes and foliage, 
evergreen and deciduous, which thicken at places into a grove, 
and half screen those dependencies of a handsome establish- 
ment — stables, dairies and the like — which, left openly in 
sight, look very ill, and can be made to look no otherwise, even 
by the trying to make them look genteel : for they are dis- 
agreeable objects, that call up (attire them as you will) ideas 
not dainty. As, therefore, the eye should not miss them alto- 
gether — for their absence would imply great discomfort and 
inconvenience — the best way is to half-veil them, as is done 
at Montpelier. 

In the rear of the house lies a large and well-tended garden. 
This was, of course, mainly the mistress's care ; while the mas- 
ter's was, as far as his bodily feebleness permitted, directed to- 
wards his agricultural operations. In the Virginia economy of 
the household, where so much must be ordered with a view to 
entertaining guests all the while, the garden plays an important 
part. Without ample supplies from it, there would be no pos- 
sibility of maintaining that exuberant good cheer with which 
the tables continually groan, in all those wealthier habitations 
where the old custom of a boundless hospitality is still reverently 
observed. In such — and there are yet many, although the Jef- 
fersonian " Law of Descents/' and the diffusion of the trading 
spirit are thinning them out every day, as rum and smallpox are 
dispeopling our Indian tribes — there is little pause of repletion. 
Every guest must be feasted : if a stranger, because strangers 
ought to be made to pass their time as agreeably as possible ; 
if a friend, because nothing can be too good for one's friends. 



Where such social maxims and such a domestic policy prevail, 
there will seldom, according to Adam Smith's principle of 
" Demand and Supply/' be any very serious lack of guests. 
Indeed, the condition is one hard to avoid, and so pleasant, 
withal, that we have known persons of wit and breeding to 
adopt it as their sole profession, and benevolently pass their 
lives in guarding their friends, one after another, from the dis- 
tresses of a guestless mansion. But, to return to the garden 
of Montpelier ; there were few houses in Virginia that gave a 
larger welcome, or made it more agreeable, than that over which 
Queen Dolly — the most gracious and beloved of all our female 
sovereigns — reigned ; and, wielding as skilfully the domestic, 
as she had done worthily and popularly the public, sceptre, 
every thing that came beneath her immediate personal sway — 
the care and the entertainment of visitors, the government of 
the menials, the whole policy of the interior — was admirably 
managed, with an equal grace and efficiency. Wherefore, as 
we have said, the important department of the garden was 
excellently well administered, both for profit and pleasure, and 
made to pour forth in profusion, from its wide and variously- 
tended extent, the esculents and the blooms, herb, fruit, flower, 
or root, of every season. JSTor was the merely beautiful neg- 
lected for the useful only ; her truly feminine tastes delighted 
in all the many tinted children of the parterre, native and ex- 
otic ; and flowers sprang up beneath her hand, as well as their 
more substantial sisters, the vegetables. In a word, her gar- 
den was rich in all that makes one delightful ; and so of all 
the other less sightly but needful departments of her large and 
well-ordered establishment. 

We should, however, slight one of its most pleasing fea- 


tures, were we to omit mentioning the peculiar purpose to 
which was consecrated one of those low wings of the building 
which we have briefly described. There dwelt, under the most 
sacred guard of filial affection, yet served in her own little 
separate household by servants set apart to her use, the very 
aged and infirm mother of Mr. Madison ; a most venerable 
lady, who, after the death of her husband, thus lived under 
the tender guardianship of her son and of her daughter-in-law, 
down to near her hundredth year, enjoying whatever of the 
sweets of life the most affectionate and ingenious solicitude can 
bestow upon extreme decrepitude. Here she possessed without 
the trouble of providing them, all the comforts and freedom 
of an independent establishment ; and tended by her own 
gray-haired domestics, and surrounded at her will by such 
younger relatives as it gratified her to have about her, she 
passed her quiet but never lonely days, a reverent and a gentle 
image of the good and indeed elevated simplicity of elder times, 
manners, and tastes. All the appointments of her dwelling 
bespoke the olden clay ; dark and cumbrous old carved furni- 
ture, carpets of which the modern loom has forgotten the pat- 
terns ; implements that looked as if Tubal Cain had designed 
them ; upholstery quaintly, if not queerly venerable. In short, 
all the objects about her were in keeping with her person and 
attire. You would have said that they and she had sat to Sir 
Godfrey Kneller for a family picture ; or that you yourself had 
been suddenly transported back to Addison's time, and were 
peeping by privilege into the most secluded part of Sir Koger 
de Coverley's mansion. Indeed, to confirm the illusion, you 
would probably find her reading the Spectator in the large 
imprint and rich binding of its own period, or thumbing — as 



our degenerate misses do a novel of the Dickens or Sue school — 
the leaves of Pope, Swift, Steele, or some other of those whom 
criticism alone (for the common people and the crowd, of what 
is now styled literature, know them not) still recalls as " the 
wits of Queen Anne's day." These were the learning of our 
great-grandmothers ; need we wonder if they were nobler dames 
than the frivolous things of the fancy boarding-school, half- 
taught in every thing they should not study, made at much 
pains and expense to know really nothing, and just proficients 
enough of foreign tongues to be ignorant of their own ? The 
authors we have mentioned, their good contemporaries, and 
their yet greater predecessors, who gave to our language a lit- 
erature, and are still all that holds it from sinking into fustian 
and slipslop, a tag-rag learning and a tatterdemalion English, 
were those that lay around this ancient lady, and beguiled her 
old age as they had formed and delighted the youth of her 
mind and heart. If you made her refer to them, as the favor- 
ite employment of her infirmity-compelled leisure, it was 
pleasant to hear her (as in that other instance which we have 
given of Patrick Henry's sisters) talk of them as if they had 
been dear and familiar personal friends. Perhaps, however, 
authors were then .better loved and more respected by their 
readers than they are nowadays ; and possibly this was be- 
cause they deserved to be so ; or indeed there may be a double 
decline, and readers as much worse than the writers. Not 
that either of these is the fact, or even a conjecture which we 
ourselves entertain. We merely mention it en passant, as a 
bare possibility. The opinion would be unpopular, and should 
not be admitted in a democracy ; of which it is the very gen- 
ius to have no opinions but such as are popular ; and there- 


fore to think no thoughts that might betray one into an opin- 
ion not that of the majority. 

Such books then, and, when her old eyes grew weary, the 
almost equally antiquated occupation of knitting, habitually 
filled up the hours of this old-time lady ; the hours, we mean, 
which pain or feebleness remitted her for occupation. As to 
those sadder moments of suffering, or of that sinking of the 
bodily powers which presses at times upon far-advanced age, 
she bore them with the cheerfullest patience, and even treated 
them as almost compensated by the constant delight of the 
affections which the pious care of her children gave her all the 
while. Nothing could exceed their watchfulness to serve her, 
soothe her, minister to her such enjoyments as may be made 
by lovingness to linger around even the last decline of a kindly 
and well-spent life. In all such offices, her son bore as much 
part as his own frail health and the lesser aptitude of men for 
tending the sick permitted ; but no daughter ever exceeded in 
the tender and assiduous arts of alleviation, the attentions 
which Mrs. Madison gave to her husband's infirm parent. 
Keversing the order of nature, she became to her (as the ven- 
erable sufferer herself was accustomed fondly to say) the mo- 
ther of her second childhood. Mistress as she was of all that 
makes greatness pleasing and sheds a shining grace upon 
power, Mrs. Madison never appeared in any light so worthy or 
so winning, as in this secret one of filial affection towards her 
adopted mother. 

It was a part, however, of her system of happiness for the 
ancient lady, at once to shut out from her (what she could ill 
sustain) the bustle of that large establishment, and the gayeties 
of the more miscellaneous guests that often thronged it, and 



yet to bring to her, in special favor towards them, such visi- 
tors as could give her pleasure and break the monotony of her 
general seclusion. These were sometimes old and valued 
friends ; sometimes their hopeful offspring ; and occasionally 
personages of such note as made her curious to see them. All 
such she received,, according to what they were, with that an- 
tique cordiality or amenity which belonged to the fine old days 
of good-breeding, of which she was a genuine specimen. To 
the old, her person, dress, manners, conversation, recalled, in 
their most pleasing forms, the usages, the spirit, the social 
tone of an order of things that had vanished ; an elevated 
simplicity that had now given way to more affected courtesies, 
more artificial elegancies. To the young, she and her minia- 
ture household were a still more singular spectacle. They 
had looked upon their host and hostess as fine old samples of 
the past, and the outer, the exoteric Montpelier, with its cum- 
brous furniture and rich but little modish appointments, as a 
sort of museum of domestic antiquities; but here, hidden 
within its secret recesses, were a personage, ways, objects, 
fashions, that carried them back to the yet more superannu- 
ated elegance of days when what now struck them as obsolete 
must have been regarded as the frivolous innovations of an 
impertinent young generation. 

We have already described the house, and glanced at its 
appointments, but may add that the former seemed designed 
for an opulent and an easy hospitality, and that the latter, 
while rich, was plainly and solidly so. No expedients, no 
tricks of show met the eye ; but all was well set forth with a 
sort of nobleness, yet nothing of pomp. The apartments were 
of ample size ; the furniture neither scanty nor (as now seems 


the mode) huddled together, as if the master were a salesman. 
Nothing seemed wanting, nothing too much. A finished ur- 
banity and yet a thorough cordiality reigned in every thing : all 
the ways, all the persons, all the objects of the place were 
agreeable and even interesting. You soon grew at your ease, 
if at arriving you had been otherwise: for here was, in 
its perfection, that happiest part and surest test of good- 
breeding — the power of at once putting every one at ease. 
The attentions were not over-assiduous, not slack; but kept, 
to great degree, out of sight, by making a body of thoroughly- 
trained and most mannerly servants their ministrants, so that 
the hosts performed in person little but the higher rites of 
hospitality, and thus seemed to have no trouble and much 
pleasure in entertaining you. Accordingly, there has seldom, 
even in the hilarious land of old Virginia, been a house kept — 
especially by elderly people — at which it was pleasanter to be 
a sojourner. They always made you glad to have come, and 
sorry that you must go. 

Such was the main interior life of Montpelier. Its busi- 
ness seemed but the giving pleasure to its guests, of whom a 
perpetual succession came and went. Little was seen of the 
working machinery of the fine, and on the whole, well-man- 
aged estate, that poured forth its copious supplies to render 
possible all this lavish entertainment, this perennial flow of 
feasting. For here, be it observed, as elsewhere in the rural 
hospitalities of Virginia, it was not single visitors that were to 
be accommodated, but families and parties. Nor did these 
arrive unattended, for each brought with it a retinue of ser- 
vants, a stud of horses, and all were to be provided for. 
Meantime, the master was seen little to direct in person the 



husbandry of his domain ; and indeed, he was known to be 
too feeble to do so. Nevertheless, the tillage of Montpelier 
was productive and its soil held in a state of progressive im- 
provement. Indeed, capable of every thing he had engaged in, 
except arms (in which the Jeffersonian dynasty, except Mon- 
roe, must be confessed not to have excelled) — wise, attentive, 
and systematic, he had established his farming oj)erations upon 
a method so good and regular, that they went on well, with 
only his occasional inspection, and the nightly reports of his 
head men of the blacks. The mildest and humanest of mas- 
ters, he had brought about among his slaves, by a gentle exact- 
ness, and the care to keep them happy while well-governed, 
great devotion to him and their duties, and a far more than 
usual intelligence. Every night he received an account of the 
day's results, and consulted freely with his managers, on the 
morrow's business. All was examined and discussed as with 
persons who had and who deserved his confidence. Thus en- 
couraged to think, the inert and unreflecting African learnt 
forecast, skill, self-respect, and zeal to do his duty towards the 
master and mistress who were so good to him. We do not 
say that the like could be done to the same extent every where. 
Montpelier was cultivated merely to support itself, and not for 
profit ; which is necessarily the ruling end on the plantations 
generally, and perhaps compels more enforced methods ; which, 
indeed, can scarcely be expected to cease, as long as fanatical 
interference from without, between the master and the slave, 
shall only serve to breed discontent on the one part and dis- 
trust on the other, and driving the threatened master to at- 
tend to the present security of his^roperty, instead of occupy- 
ing himself with its future amelioration. Men of any sense 


abroad should surely have perceived, by this time, that the 
method of driving the Southern States into Emancipation does 
not answer ; but, on the contrary, is, so far as the temper of 
that region is concerned, only postponing it, and meanwhile 
aggravating the condition of both classes. 


Thus gentle, genial, kindly, liberal, good and happy, passed 
the life of Montpelier. Public veneration shed all its honors ; 
private friendship and communion all their delights upon it. 
Even those dignities which, in this country of party spirit, be- 
get for the successful more of reproach than fame, had left the 
name of Madison without a serious stain. His Presidency past, 
the wise and blameless spirit of his official administration came 
speedily to be acknowledged on all sides, and envy and detrac- 
tion, left without an aim, turned to eulogy. An ample for- 
tune, the greatest domestic happiness, and a life prolonged, in 
spite of the original feebleness of his body, to the unusual age 
of eighty-five, gave him in their full measure, those singular 
blessings which the goodness of God deservedly dealt to him 
and the admirable partner of his existence. A philosophic, 
and yet not a visionary ruler, he should stand among ours as 
next to Washington, though separated from him by a great 
interval. The JefTersons and the Jacksons come far after him, 

"He was more 
Than a mere Alexander ; and, unstained 
With household blood and wine, serenely wore 
His sovereign virtues : still we Trajan's name adore." 


ALTHOUGH the City of New- York claims the honor of 
heing the birth-place of John Jay, it cannot properly be 
regarded as the home of his early years. Not far from the 
time of his birth, on the 12th of December, 1745, his father, 
Peter Jay, who, by honorable assiduity in the mercantile voca- 
tion, had accumulated a handsome fortune, purchased an es- 
tate in Rye, about twenty-five miles from the city, with the 
intention of making it his future residence. This town, situ- 
ated on the southeastern corner of Westchester County, ranks 


among the most delightful summer resorts that adorn the 
northern shores of Long Island Sound. The village proper 
stands about a mile and a half from the Sound, on the turn- 
pike road between New- York and Boston. From the hills 
extending along its northern limits, the Mockquams (Blind 
Brook) a perennial stream, flows southwardly through it, 
adding much to the beauty of its scenery. On the out- 
skirts are many elegant villas, the favorite haunts of those 
who rejoice to exchange the cares of business and the dust 
and heat of the neighboring metropolis for its grateful 
seclusion and the refreshing breezes that visit it from the 

For the desertion of the Jay estate at Eye, in the ab- 
sence of personal knowledge, we shall, in the main, rely upon 
the account furnished by Bolton, in his excellent History 
of Westchester County, adhering principally to his own lan- 

The situation of the estate is very fine, embracing some of 
the most graceful undulations of a hilly district, highly diver- 
sified with rocks, woods, and river scenery. Contiguous to the 
southern portion of it and bordering the Sound is Marie's 
Neck and the neighboring islands of Pine and Hen-hawk. 
The curious phenomenon of the Mirage is frequently wit- 
nessed from these shores, when the land on the opposite 
coast of Long Island appears to rise above the waters of 
the Sound, the intermediate spaces seeming to be sunk be- 
neath the waves. 

The family residence is situated near the post-road leading 
to Eye, at a short distance from the river. The building is a 
handsome structure of wood, having a lofty portico on the 



north. The south point commands a beautiful and charming 
view of the Sound and Long Island. Some highly interest- 
ing family portraits adorn the walls of the hall and dining- 
room, among which are the following : Augustus Jay, who 
emigrated to this country in 1686, a copy from the original by 
Waldo ; Anna Maria Bayard, wife of Augustus J ay, by Waldo ; 
Peter Augustus J ay, as a boy, artist unknown ; an old paint- 
ing upon oak panel, supposed to represent Catherine, wife of 
the Hon. Stephen Van Cortlandt, of Cortlandt, South Hol- 
land. This lady appears habited in a plain black dress, wear- 
ing a high neck-ruffle, and, in her hand, holds a clasped Bible. 
In one corner of the picture is inscribed "aetat. 64, 1630/' 
In the library is the valuable cabinet of shells, amounting to 
several thousands, of which the collector, John C. Jay, M. D., 
has published a descriptive catalogue. Noticeable among the 
family relics is the gold snuff-box, presented by the Corpora- 
tion of New- York with the freedom of the city to " his Excel- 
lency, John Jay/' on the 4th of October, 1784, not long after 
his return from diplomatic service in Spain and at Paris. 
An old French Bible contains the following memoranda : 
" Auguste Jay, est ne a la Kochelle dans la Koyaume de 
France le f| Mars, 1665. Laus Deo. K York, July ye 10th, 
1773, this day at 4 o'clock in ye morning dyed Eva Yan Cort- 
landt, was buried ye next day ye 12 en ye voute at Mr. Stuy- 
vesant's about six and seven o'clock." 

In the opening of a wood on the southeast of the mansion 
is the family cemetery, where are interred the remains of the 
ancestors of the Jays. Over the grave of the Chief Justice is 
the following inscription, written by his son, Peter Augustus 






Born, Dec. 12, 1745, 
Died, May 17, 1829. 

According to his expressed desire, the body of Mr. Jay was 
not deposited in the family vault, but committed to the bosom 
of the earth. He always strenuously protested against what 
he considered the heathenish attempt to rescue the worthless 
relics of mortality from that dissolution, which seems to be 
their natural and appropriate destination. Within the same 
cemetery are also memorials to Sir James Jay, Peter Jay 
Munroe, Peter Jay, Goldsborough Banyar, Harriet Yan Cort- 
landt, and other members of the family. 

Pierre Jay, to whom the Jays of this country trace their 
origin, was one of those noble and inflexible Huguenots who 
were driven from France by the Eevocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, a measure which deprived that kingdom of more than 
one-fourth of the most industrious and desirable class of its po- 

jay. 203 

pulation. His descendants, settling in this country, retained 
the characteristics which had distinguished their forefathers, 
and became among its most respectable and prosperous inhab- 
itants. Peter Jay, the grandson of Pierre Jay, and, like him, 
engaged in mercantile pursuits, was married in the year 1728 
to Mary, the daughter of Jacobus Van Cortlandt, and was 
the father of ten children, of whom John was the eighth. Sel- 
dom has a son been more fortunate in his parents. " Both 
father and mother," we are told by the biographer, "were ac- 
tuated by sincere and fervent piety ; both had warm hearts 
and cheerful tempers, and both possessed, under varied and 
severe trials, a remarkable degree of equanimity. But in other 
respects they differed widely. He possessed strong and mas- 
culine sense, was a shrewd observer and accurate judge of men, 
resolute, persevering and prudent, an affectionate father, a 
kind master, but governing all under his control with mild 
but absolute sway. She had a cultivated mind and a fine 
imagination. Mild and affectionate in her temper and man- 
ners, she took delight in the duties as well as in the pleasures 
of domestic life ; while a eheerful resignation to the will of 
Providence during many years of sickness and suffering bore 
witness to the strength of her religious faith." 

Under the tutelage of such a mother was John Jay edu- 
cated till his eighth year, and from her he learned the rudi- 
ments of English and Latin grammar. Even at this tender 
age, the gravity of his disposition, his discretion and his fond- 
ness for books were subjects of common remark. When eight 
years old, he was committed to the care of Mr. Stoope, a 
French clergyman and keeper of a grammar-school at New 
Kochelle, with whom he remained for about three years. This 


gentleman being unfitted by reason of his oddities and improv- 
idence for the efficient supervision of the establishment, left 
the young pupils, for the most part, to the tender mercies of 
his wife, a woman of extremely penurious habits ; by whom, 
we are told, they were "treated with little food and much 
scolding." Every thing about the house under the manage- 
ment of this ill-assorted pair went to ruin, and the young stu- 
dent was often obliged, in order to protect his bed from the 
drifting snow, to close up the broken panes with bits of wood. 
Various other inconveniences fell to the lot of young Jay, but 
it is probable that the rigid discipline of Mrs. Stoope was not 
without its advantages. It had the effect of throwing its sub- 
ject on his own resources, and taught him to disregard those 
thousand petty annoyances which, after all, are the chief 
causes of human misery, and which often disturb the tranquil- 
lity of the strongest minds. 

From Mr. Stoope he was transferred to a private tutor, and 
in his fifteenth year entered King's, now Columbia College, at 
that time in its infancy. Here, as might have been supposed, 
his conduct, exemplary character and scholarship won him the 
esteem and respect of all. Beside the improvement and ex- 
pansion of his intellect, and the opportunity of measuring 
himself with companions of the same age and the same 
studies, he received other advantages from these four years 
of college training. His attention being called to certain 
deficiencies which might impede his future success, he at 
once set himself at work to remedy them. An indistinct 
articulation and a faulty pronunciation of the letter L, he was 
able by the constant study and practice of the rules of elocu- 
tion entirely to remove. Special attention was also paid to 



English composition, by which he attained that admirable 
style, which in purity and classical finish was afterwards not 
surpassed by that of any other contemporary statesman, a style 
polished but not emasculate, and of such flexibility as to adapt 
itself equally well to the vehemence of patriotic appeal, the 
guarded precision of diplomatic correspondence, or to the grave 
and authoritative judgments of the bench. He also adopted 
Pope's plan of keeping by his bedside a table supplied with 
writing materials, in order to record at the moment of its sug- 
gestion any idea which might occur to him in waking. 

During his senior year, the young student had occasion to 
display that decision and firmness which at a later period shone 
so conspicuously in affairs of greater moment. Certain mis- 
chief-making classmates, perhaps to avenge themselves on the 
steward, untertook to break the table in the college hall. The 
noise produced by this operation reaching the ears of Dr. 
Cooper, the President, that arbitrary personage suddenly pounc- 
ed upon them without leaving them a chance of escape. The 
young men were at once formed in a line and two questions — 
" Did you break the table ? Do you know who did ? " — were 
each answered by an emphatic " No," until they were put to 
J ay, the last but one in the line, who had indeed been present 
at the disturbance but took no part in it ; to the first question 
he replied in the negative, to the second his answer was " Yes, 
sir," and to the further inquiry — " Who was it ? " — he promptly 
said, " I do not choose to tell you, sir." The remaining stu- 
dent followed J ay's example. The two young men, after re- 
sisting the expostulations of the President, were summoned be- 
fore the Faculty for trial, where Jay appeared for the de- 
fence. To the allegation that they had been guilty of violat- 


ing their written promise, on their admission, of obedience to 
the college statutes, Jay responded that they were not re- 
quired by those statutes to inform against their companions, 
and that therefore his refusal to do so was not an act of dis- 
obedience. Keasonable as this defence might appear, it, of 
course, failed to satisfy judges, clothed with executive powers, 
and anxious to punish the least disregard of their own autho- 
rity, and the two delinquents were at once rusticated. At the 
termination of his sentence Jay returned to college, where his 
reception by the instructors proved that he had suffered no loss 
of their esteem. On the 15th of May, 1764, he was graduated 
with the highest collegiate honors. 

On leaving college, Jay entered the office of Benjamin 
Kissam, in the city of New- York, as a student at law. Be- 
tween this gentleman and himself a degree of familiarity and 
mutual respect existed, quite remarkable considering their 
relative positions and their disparity of years. For two years 
in the office of Mr. Kissam, he was the fellow student of the 
celebrated grammarian, Lindley Murray, with whom he formed 
an enduring friendship, and who, in a posthumous memoir of 
himself, thus alludes to his companion : "His talents and vir- 
tues gave, at that period, pleasing indications of future emi- 
nence; he was remarkable for strong reasoning powers, compre- 
hensive views, indefatigable application, and uncommon, firm- 
ness of mind. With these qualifications added to a just taste 
in literature, and ample stores of learning and knowledge, he 
was happily prepared to enter on that career of public virtue 
by which he was afterward so honorably distinguished, and 
made instrumental in promoting the good of his country/' 
Murray was a tall, handsome man, the son of Kobert Murray, 



a venerable quaker of New- York, the location of whose farm 
at the lower part of the city is still pointed out by the anti- 
quarian. Mr. Jay was admitted to the bar in 1768, and in 
the pursuit of his profession so extended his reputation that 
he was soon after appointed secretary of the commission named 
by the king to determine the disputed boundary between the 
States of New- York and New Jersey. In 1774 he was married 
to Sarah, the youngest daughter of William Livingston, an emi- 
nent supporter of the American cause during the Kevolution, 
and afterwards for many years governor of New Jersey. 

The limits to which we are confined allow us to take but 
a brief notice of Mr. Jay's numerous and most valuable public 
services, extending over a period of twenty-eight years, and ter- 
minating with his retirement in 1801 from the office of gov- 
ernor of his native State. In no one of the colonies had the 
cause of resistance to the mother country less encouragement 
than in New- York, and in no other could Great Britain num- 
ber so many influential allies, yet, on the receipt of the news 
of the enforcement of the Boston Port Bill, Mr. Jay took a 
decided stand on the side of the patriots. At a meeting of 
the citizens of New- York, May 16, 1774, we find him on a 
committee of fifty appointed " to correspond with the sister 
colonies on all matters of moment." Young as he was, he 
was required to draft the response to the proposal of the Bos- 
ton committee for a Congress of deputies from " the colonies in 
general." In the first Congress in the same year, he was a 
member of some of the most important committees. The 
"Address to the People of Great Britain," the distinguishing 
act of that Congress, was drafted by Mr. Jay. This eloquent 
document was pronounced by Jefferson, then ignorant of its 


author, to be " the production certainly of the finest pen in 
America/' and Mr. Webster considered it as standing "at the 
head of the incomparable productions of that body [the first 
Congress], productions which called forth the decisive com- 
mendation of Lord Chatham, in which he pronounced them 
not inferior to the finest productions of the master minds of 
the world." 

In the interim between the close of the first, and the open- 
ing in May 1775 of the second Congress, Jay was incessantly 
engaged in the service of his country ; and when the delegates 
had reassembled, his pen was again employed in the prepara- 
tion of the two addresses to the inhabitants of Jamaica and 
of Ireland. Some reluctance being shown on the part of 
wealthy and influential citizens to serve in a military capacity, 
he, without hesitation, sought and accepted a commission as 
colonel of a regiment of the new militia ; but his legislative 
ability and eloquence were too highly valued to allow of his 
absence from Congress, and he never actually joined his com- 
pany. A second address of Congress to the king having been 
treated with insult, and all hope of accommodation being aban- 
doned, he became one of the foremost advocates of warlike 
measures ; and, while on a committee for that purpose, de- 
vised a series of plans for crippling the resources of England, 
which were adopted by Congress in March 1776, nearly three 
mouths previous to the formal act of severance in the Declara- 
tion of Independence. At the adoption of this measure, in 
consequence of his election to the Provincial Congress of New- 
York in April of that year, Jay was unable to affix his signa- 
ture to that instrument, but, as chairman of the committee to 
whom the subject had been referred, he reported a resolution, 



pledging that State to its support. Shortly after came the 
most gloomy period of the revolutionary cause in New- York; 
a hostile army was invading the State from the north, inspired 
by the defeat of the American forces on Long Island, the city 
was in possession of the enemy, and what was worse, treachery 
and despair existed among the people themselves. A commit- 
tee of public safety was appointed by the Provincial Congress, 
clothed with dictatorial powers, of which Jay acted as chairman. 
At tliis juncture also, Mr. Jay, by appointment, put forth the 
thrilling address of the convention to their constituents, an ap- 
peal written in the most exalted strain of patriotic eloquence, 
in which he rebukes the defection and stimulates the flagging 
hopes of the people with the zeal and indignant energy of an 
ancient prophet. 

In 1777, Jay, from a committee appointed the year before, 
drafted a State Constitution, Avhich received the sanction of 
the legislature. There were certain provisions which he de- 
sired to introduce in that instrument, and which he thought 
more likely to be adopted when proposed in the form of 
amendments than if they should be incorporated into the 
first draft ; but a summons to the side of his dying mo- 
ther prevented the realization of his wishes. One of the 
amendments which he intended to urge, was a provision 
for the gradual abolition of slavery within the limits of the 
State. Under the new constitution, having been appointed 
to the office of Chief- Justice, he was ineligible by that in- 
strument to any other post, except on a " special occasion," 
but, in consequence of a difficulty arising between his own, 
and the neighboring State of Vermont, the legislature took 
advantage of the exception, and elected him delegate to 


Congress. Without vacating, therefore, his judicial seat, he 
complied with their appointment, and soon after his en- 
trance in Congress became its presiding officer. The impos- 
sibility, however, of doing full justice to both his judicial 
and legislative duties, induced him to resign his seat on the 
bench. Congress now employed his pen in writing the circular 
letter to the States, urging them to furnish additional funds 
for the war. This statesmanlike exposition of the govern- 
ment's financial condition closes with a noble appeal to the na- 
tional honor. 

" Eouse, therefore, strive who shall do most for his country ; 
rekindle that flame of patriotism, which, at the mention of 
disgrace and slavery, blazed throughout America and ani- 
mated all her citizens. Determine to finish the contest as you 
began it, honestly and gloriously. Let it never be said that 
America had no sooner become independent than she became 
insolvent, or that her infant glories and growing fame were ob- 
scured and tarnished by broken contracts and - violated faith, in 
the very hour when all the nations of the earth were admiring 
and almost adoring the splendor of her rising/' 

In 1779, accompanied by his wife, he sailed for Spain, as 
minister plenipotentiary, in order to secure the concurrence of 
that kingdom in the treaty with France, recognizing the inde- 
pendence of the United States ; and though his diplomatic ne- 
gotiations were conducted in the most honorable spirit, and 
with consummate prudence and ability, the object of his mission 
was finally frustrated by the selfish policy of the Spanish gov- 
ernment, in requiring America to surrender the right of navi- 
gating on the Mississippi. It was during his residence at the 
Spanish court, that the desperate financial embarrassments of 



Congress prompted a measure equally unjust to their represent- 
ative abroad and hazardous to the national credit. Presuming 
upon the success of his mission, they had empowered their 
treasurer to draw on Mr. Jay bills payable at six months, for 
half a million of dollars. As these bills came in, the minister 
was placed in a situation of extreme perplexity, but his regard 
for his country's reputation overcame all private considerations ; 
he adopted the patriotic but desperate expedient of making 
himself personally responsible for their payment, and his ac- 
ceptances had exceeded one hundred thousand dollars before 
any relief came to hand. Mr. Jay's residence in Spain also 
subjected him to other trials, only less severe than the one 
just mentioned ; the vexatious obstacles placed in way of his 
negotiations by the Spanish government ; the insufficiency of 
his salary at the most expensive court in Europe ; the frequent 
removal of the court from place to place, at the royal pleasure, 
involving the absence of his wife, whom, for pecuniary reasons, 
he was unable to take with him ; the death of his young child, 
and his anxiety for the family whom he had left at home, 
exposed to the clangers of war, and from whom, for more 
than a year, not a line had been received, might well have 
harassed a less sensitive nature than his. The fortitude 
with which he sustained these annoyances may be seen in a 
letter written by him about this time to his friend, Egbert 
Benson, of New- York. It commences thus : 

"Dear Benson : 

" When shall we again, by a cheerful fire, or under a shady 
tree, recapitulate our juvenile pursuits or pleasures, or look 
back on the extensive field of politics we once have trod- 


clen ? Our plans of life have, within these few years past, 
been strangely changed. Our country, I hope, will be the 
better for the alterations. How far we individually may be 
benefited is more questionable. Personal considerations, how- 
ever, must give way to public ones, and the consciousness of 
having done our duty to our country and posterity, must re- 
compense us for all the evils we experience in their cause/' 

From Spain, by order of Congress, Jay proceeded to Paris 
to arrange, in conjunction with Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, 
and Laurens, the Definitive Treaty of Peace with England, — 
the most important diplomatic act of the eighteenth century : 
and we have the testimony of Mr. Fitzherbert, then the Eng- 
lish minister resident in Paris, that "it was not only chiefly 
but solely through his means that the negotiations of that 
period between England and the United States were brought 
to a successful conclusion." Mr. Oswald had arrived in Paris 
with a commission, in which the United States were men- 
tioned under the designation of "colonies," but Jay, although 
his associates did not participate in his scruples, refused to 
begin negotiations without a preliminary recognition on the 
part of England of the Independence of the United States ; 
and owing to his firmness a new commission was obtained from 
the king, in which that most essential point (as the sequel 
proved) was gained. Declining the appointment now tendered 
him by Congress of commissioner to negotiate a commercial 
treaty with England, Jay returned to his country. On ar- 
riving at Now- York he was welcomed by a most enthusiastic 
public reception, and was presented by the corporation of New- 
York with the freedom of the city in a gold box. The office 



of Secretary for foreign affairs, which, for the want of a suitable 
incumbent, had been vacant for two years, was at this time 
urged by Congress upon his acceptance, and he did not feel 
at liberty to refuse his services. He was now virtually at the 
head of public affairs. The whole foreign correspondence of 
the government, the proposal of plans of treaties, instructions 
to ministers abroad, and the submission of reports on all mat- 
ters to which Congress might call his attention, came within 
the scope of his new duties. 

Mr. Jay was among the first of our statesmen to perceive 
the defects of the confederation, and to urge the necessity of a 
new and more efficient system of government. Besides his 
contributions to the Federalist, he wrote an address to the peo- 
ple of New- York, then the very citadel of the opposition to the 
proposed Constitution, which had no unimportant effect in se- 
curing its adoption. In the State Convention, which had as- 
sembled with only eleven out of fifty-seven members in its favor, 
J ay took a most influential part, and mainly owing to his ex- 
ertions was it finally ratified. At the commencement of the 
administration of Washington, he was invited by that great 
man to select his own post in the newly-formed government. 
He was accordingly appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court, and well did he justify, in his new capacity, the glow- 
ing eulogium of Webster, that " when the spotless ermine of 
the judicial robe fell on John Jay it touched nothing less spot- 
less than itself." In the performance of his duties as the first 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, much, was accomplished 
by him in organizing the business of the court, expounding the 
principles of its decisions, and in commending them to a con- 
federacy of sovereign States, already sufficiently jealous of its 


extensive but beneficent jurisdiction. His decision in the 
novel case of a suit instituted against the State of Georgia by 
a citizen of another State, is a memorable instance of his firm- 
ness and judicial ability. 

The year 1794 opened with every prospect of a disastrous 
war between Great Britain and the United States. The Kevo- 
lution did not terminate without leaving in the minds of 
Americans a strong and perhaps an unreasonable antipathy to 
the mother country, which was stimulated by the unwise in- 
terference of Genet, the French minister, in our politics, and 
by the exertions of a large class of British refugees, who had es- 
caped to our country still smarting under the oppressions which 
they had experienced at home, and who were extremely de- 
sirous of plunging the American government into the contest 
which was then raging between France and England. There 
were also certain substantial grievances universally admitted by 
our citizens, which would give some countenance to such a mea- 
sure on the part of America. Among these were enumerated the 
detention in violation of the treaty of the posts on our western 
frontier by British garrisons, thereby excluding the navigation 
by Americans of the great lakes, the refusal to make compen- 
sation for the negroes carried away during the war by the Bri- 
tish fleet, the exclusion and capture of American vessels carry- 
ing supplies to French ports, and the seizure of our ships 
in the exercise of the pretended right of search. These, 
and other outrages, were justified by Great Britain, on the 
ground of certain equivalent infractions of the treaty by the 
American nation. Washington however could not be induced 
to consent to hazard the na^'onal interests, by transgressing 
that neutrality so necessary to a young republic only just re- 



covering from the severe experience of a seven years' war, and 
he saw no other honorable means of averting the impending 
danger than the appointment of a special envoy, empowered 
to adjust the matters in dispute. For this purpose, on his 
nomination, Mr. Jay was confirmed on the 20th of April, 1794, 
by the Senate, as Minister to England, at which country he 
arrived in June of that year. The treaty was signed in No- 
vember following, and the negotiations of the two ministers, 
Lord Grenville and Mr. Jay, were greatly facilitated by their 
mutual esteem and the good understanding existing between 
them ; and their correspondence, which was characterized by 
signal ability on both sides, affords an instance of diplomatic 
straightforwardness and candor almost without a parallel in 
history. It is not consistent with the plan of our sketch to 
speak of the provisions of the treaty thus secured : it was not, 
in all respects, what Jay, or the country desired ; but in view 
of the immense advantages to our commerce obtained by it, 
the complicated and delicate questions adjusted, and the dis- 
asters which would have befallen the nation had it been de- 
feated, it will challenge comparison with any subsequent in- 
ternational arrangement to which the United States have 
been a party. Yet, incredible as would seem, the abuse and 
scurrility with which both it and its author were loaded, dis- 
closes one of the most disgraceful chapters in the records of 
political fanaticism. By an eminent member of the opposing 
party, he was declared to have perpetrated " an infamous act," 
an act " stamped with avarice and corruption." He himself 
was termed " a damned arch-traitor," " sold to Great Britain," 
and the treaty burned before his door. Enjoying the confi- 
dence of the illustrious Washington, and of the wisest anil 


best men of his country, in his course, and above all, the in- 
ward assurance of his unswerving rectitude, Jay might well 
forgive these ebullitions of party spleen and await the sanction 
which has been conferred on his actions by the impartial voice 
of posterity. 

But no statesman of that time had, on the whole, less rea- 
son to complain of popular ingratitude than Jay ; before he 
reached his native shore, a large majority of the people of 
New- York had expressed their approbation of his conduct by 
electing him to the office of Governor. While in this office, 
the appropriate close of his public career, besides suggesting 
many useful measures in regard to education and internal im- 
provements, the benefits of which are experienced to this day, 
he had the happiness of promoting and witnessing the passage 
by the Legislature of the act for the gradual abolition of 
slavery in his native State. Of this measure he was one of 
the earliest advocates, having served as the first President of 
the Society of Manumission, which had been organized in 1786 
by a number of the most respectable gentlemen in New- York, 
and to whose disinterested exertions the success of the anti- 
slavery cause was mainly due. On accepting the seat ten- 
dered to him in the Supreme Court, Jay, fearing that the 
presidency of the society might prove an embarrassment in the 
decision of some questions which might come before him, re- 
signed the office and was succeeded by Hamilton, who con- 
tinued to discharge its duties till the year 1793. 

At the expiration of his second gubernatorial term in 1801, 
Jay, contrary to the importunities of his friends, retired from 
public life, having, for twenty-seven years, faithfully served his 
country in every department of legislative, diplomatic, and 



judicial trust. Declining the office of Chief Justice, which 
was again pressed by the President upon his acceptance, he 
prepared to enjoy that congenial seclusion under the shade of 
his patrimonial trees, which, through all the varied and agi- 
tating scenes of political life, had been the object of his most 
ardent desires. In accordance with this design, he had built a 
substantial house at Bedford, about forty-four miles from New- 
York, on an estate embracing some eight hundred acres, 
which had come to him by inheritance. Here, in one of 
the most delightful localities in the fertile county of Westches- 
ter, in the care of his family and estates, in the society of his 
friends and his books, in the discharge of the duties of neigh- 
borly benevolence, and in the preparation for those immortal 
scenes which he had reason to suppose would soon open upon 
him, he passed the tranquil remainder of his days. But his 
enjoyments were not destined to exempt him from those bitter 
but universal visitations, which, at times, overthrow the happi- 
ness and frustrate the most pleasing anticipations of our race. 
In less than twelve months after his retirement, the partner 
of his joys and sorrows, who, by her accomplishments, her un- 
obtrusive virtues and solicitous affection, had been at once his 
delight and support, was taken from him. At the final hour, 
Jay, as the biographer tells us, stood by the bedside "calm 
and collected," and when the spirit had taken its departure, 
led his children to an adjoining room, and with "a firm voice 
but glistening eye" read that inspiring and wonderful chapter 
in which Paul has discussed the mystery of our future resur- 

Considering its natural advantages and its connection by 
railway with the great metropolis, Bedford, the ancient half 


shire town of Westchester County, can hardly be praised on 
the score of its "progressive" tendencies. At the time of Jay's 
residence there, the mail-coach from New- York, employing 
two long days in the journey, visited the town once a week, 
and even now the locomotive which thunders through it per- 
haps a dozen times a day, hardly disturbs its rural quietude. 
It may, however, claim considerable distinction in the annals 
of Indian warfare, for, within its limits, on the southern side 
of Aspetong Mountain, is still pointed out the scene of a 
bloody conflict between the savages "and the redoubtable band 
of Captain Underhill, in which the latter coming suddenly at 
night on a village of their foes, slaughtered them without 
mercy to the number of five hundred; c: the Lord," as the 
record goes, " having collected the most of our enemies there, 
to celebrate some festival." Bedford was formerly under the 
jurisdiction of Connecticut, and the apparent thrift and in- 
dependent bearing of its farming population are decided indi- 
cations of their New England descent. Its situation is un- 
commonly pleasant and healthful, and although the surface of 
the country is somewhat rocky and uneven, the soil is excel- 
lently adapted for agricultural purposes. The higher grounds 
display an abundant growth of all varieties of oak, elm, ash, 
linden, chestnut, walnut, locust, and tulip trees, while its fer- 
tile valleys and its sunny hillside exposures furnish ample spaces 
for pasturage or cultivation. A number of beautiful streams 
water the meadows, of which the two largest, the Cisco or 
Beaver Dam, and Cross Kiver, after flowing for a long distance 
separately, just before leaving the town, wisely conclude to 
unite their forces and bear a generous tribute to the waters of 
the Croton. The Beaver Dam derives its name from having 



once been the favorite haunt of the beavers, who in former 
times found a plentiful sustenance in the bark of the willows, 
maples and birches which still linger on its banks. 

The traveller who wishes to survey the mansion of " the 
good old governor/' as Mr. Jay is still called by those villagers 
who remember his liberality and benevolent interest in their 
welfare, leaves the Harlem railroad at Katona, the northwest 
portion of the town, so called from the name of the Indian 
chief, who formerly claimed dominion of this part of the coun- 
try, and proceeds in a southeasterly direction along a road 
somewhat winding and hilly, tiresome enough certainly to the 
pedestrian, but occasionally relieving him with exhilarating 
prospects on either side of farmhouses with well-stored and 
ample barns, wooded hills with green intervales, waving fields of 
grain, and pastures of well-fed, contemplative cattle, who shake 
their heads as if their meditations were a little disturbed by Ins 
presence. Every thing about the farms has the aspect of good 
order and thrift, and nothing mars the general impression ex- 
cept the occasional sight of some happy family of swine, who 
appear to exercise a sort of right of eminent domain among 
the weeds and roots on the roadside. A snow-white sow with 
thirty snow-white young, according to an ancient poet, was the 
immediate inducement to iEneas in selecting the site of his fu- 
ture city ; whether such an attraction would prove equally 
potent in our own times, is more questionable. As one aj> 
proaches the estate of Jay, the marks of superior taste and 
cultivation are ap23arent ; the stone walls are more neatly and 
compactly built, and the traveller is refreshed by the grateful 
shade of the long rows of maples and elms which were planted 
along the road by Jay and his descendants, some of whom still 


make their summer residence in Bedford. After proceeding 
for two or three miles from the railroad station, we turn up a 
shaded avenue on the left, which winds round the southern 
slope of the hill, at the top of which stands the modest man- 
sion of John Jay. This is a dark brown wooden two-storied 
building, facing the southwest, with an addition of one story 
at each end, the main building having a front of forty-five 
feet, along which is extended a porch of ample dimensions. 
Passing through the hall we find in the rear a background of 
magnificent woods, principally oak and chestnut, though 
nearer the house are a number of gigantic willows still flour- 
ishing in the strength and verdure of youth. Concealed in 
the foliage of these woods, a little to the west, is the small 
schoolhouse of stone erected by Jay for his children, and on 
the other side of the mansion, towards the northeast, are the 
barns, carriage-house, and the farm-house, occupied by a ten- 
ant, who has supervision of the estate. These tenements are 
almost screened from view by a grove of locust trees, for which 
J ay showed a special partiality, and whose snow-white robe of 
blossoms in the latter -part of spring affords a pleasing contrast 
with the light green of the tasselled chestnuts, and the dark 
and glossy shade of the oak and walnut foliage behind. In 
front of the barn, on the eastern side of the house, is the gar- 
den, which, though not making any pretension to superiority 
in its extent or its cultivation, displays an excellent variety of 
fruits and flowers, for the most part, such as thrive easily in 
that soil, and are most useful and appropriate to the wants 
of an American household. Jay, though for his period un- 
commonly versed in horticultural matters, did not, in his old- 
fashioned simplicity, choose to waste much time in transplant- 



ing those contumacious productions of foreign countries which 
"never will in other climates grow." Ascending the hill a eshort 
distance, we come again to the house, immediately in front of 
which, without obstructing the view, stands a row of four 
handsome lindens. Before the dwelling, which is nearly half 
a mile from the main road, stretches the green lawn irregularly 
diversified with groups of trees, and beyond is seen the sightly 
ridge of " Deer's Delight," once the resort of the beautiful 
animal from which it takes its designation ; and certainly the 
choice of such a delectable locality would have done credit to 
creatures far more reasonable. This spot is crowned, with the 
elegant country-seat of Mr. John Jay, a grandson of the 
Chief Justice, who, in taking advantage of its natural beauties, 
and adapting it to the purposes of his residence, has shown a 
degree of taste which has rarely been surpassed. On the 
western slope, which is somewhat more abrupt than the others, 
is the orchard, and from a thatched arbor on the brink of the 
descent, the eye surveys a large part of that circle of hills in 
which Bedford appears to be almost inclosed. A most en- 
chanting rural landscape is here spread out, embracing a wide 
extent of country dotted with thriving farms and villages, 
graceful declivities wandered over by numerous herds of cattle, 
valleys and pellucid streams, glimmering at intervals from 
thick and overshadowing foliage. Further towards the west 
is the long line of hills just shutting off the view of the Hud- 
son, and overlooked by the still loftier range of the highlands 
on the other side of the river, conspicuous among which towers 
the Dunderberg or bread-tray mountain. From this spot the 
magnificent variations of sunset are seen to great advantage. 
No man endowed with the least susceptibility to the charm of 


outward nature, can contemplate without enthusiasm the 
broad suffusion of crimson blazing along those western hills, 
gradually passing into orange and purple, and finally closing 
with a deep glowing brown, while the clear brilliant sky above 
pales and darkens at the almost imperceptible coming on of 

The interior arrangements of the house have not been es- 
sentially varied since the hfetime of its first illustrious occu- 
pant . They all bear marks of that republican simplicity and un- 
erring good taste which were among his distinguishing charac- 
teristics. The furniture, though of the best materials, was obvi- 
ously chosen more for use than ornament, and is noticeable 
chiefly for an air of antique respectability and comfort, which, in 
spite of the perpetually changing fancies in such matters, can 
never go out of fashion. On the right of the hall, as one enters, 
is the dining-room, an apartment of perhaps some twenty feet 
square ; in this and in the parlor opposite, which has about the 
same dimensions, are several interesting family portraits, the 
works mostly of Stewart and Trumbull, among which are those 
of Egbert Benson, Judge Hobart, Peter Jay, John Jay, and 
Augustus Jay, the first American ancestor of the family, the 
artist of which is unknown. Passing through the parlor, we 
enter the small room at the west end of the house, occupied 
as a library, and containing a well-assorted but not extensive 
supply of books. Here were the weighty folios of Grotius, 
Puffendorf, Vattel, and other masters of the science of inter- 
national law, besides a number of standard theological and 
miscellaneous works, with the classic authors of antiquity, 
among whom Cicero appears to have been his special favorite. 
In the library hangs a portrait of Governor Livingston, the 



father-in-law of Jay ; a vigorous manly boy, the characteristics 
of whose youthful features have been retained with singular 
distinctness in those of his descendants. He is represented as 
dressed in the full-sleeved coat and elaborate costume of his 
time, and with a sword hanging at his side, an outfit hardly 
in accordance with so tender an age. The oaken press and 
strong-bound chest of cherry wood are also in this room, the 
latter the receptacle perhaps of Jay's important papiers ; — 
these ancient heirlooms are presumed to have crossed the ocean 
more than a century and a half ago. 

Notwithstanding the infirmities of the last twenty years 
of his life, Jay enjoyed an old age of remarkable tranquillity 
and happiness. He set an example of undeviating punctuality ; 
the hour and the man always came together, and in his habits 
he was extremely regular. In order to assist him in rising early, 
an aperture, shaped like the crescent moon, was made in the 
solid oaken shutter of his apartment, by which a glimpse 
might be caught of the first rays of the uprising dawn. The 
reading of prayers was succeeded by breakfast, after which the 
greater part of the day was commonly spent in attending to 
the affairs of his extensive farm. Most of the time when 
thus engaged, he rode on the back of a favorite sorrel mare, 
of the famous Narraganset breed, now extinct. This faithful 
creature died in 1819, after a service of twenty-three years. 
Two of the same stock belonging to Mr. Jay had died in suc- 
cession previously, the grandam having been given by his 
father in 1765. It was probably of the latter animal that he 
wrote from Europe in 1783, under the apprehension that she 
might have fallen into the hands of the enemy. 

" If my old mare is alive, I must beg of you and my bro- 


thcr to take good care of her. I mean that she should be well 
fed and live idle, unless my brother Peter should choose to use 
her. If it should be necessary to advance money to recover 
her, I am content you should do it even to the amount of 
double her value." 

At half-past one came the dinner hour, after which he was 
wont to indulge moderately in smoking. A few of his long clay 
pipes are still preserved. They were imported for him from 
abroad, and were considered in their time an unusually select 
and valuable article. His evenings were devoted to reading 
and the company of his family and neighbors. Once or twice 
a year, Judge Benson, Peter Jay, Monroe, or some other old 
friend, would take a journey to his hospitable home to pass a 
week in living over, in conversation, their long and varied ex- 
perience, and occasionally some stranger from foreign lands, 
attracted by his wide-spread reputation, would receive at his 
hands a cordial yet unostentatious welcome. Though possessed 
of a large landed property from which he enjoyed a respectable 
income, his family expenses and the management of his estate 
were regulated by a judicious and liberal economy. Kemark- 
ably affectionate in his disposition and solicitous for the wel- 
fare of his children, his demeanor towards them was marked 
with unvarying equability and decision. An extract from a 
letter to Mrs. Jay, dated London, 5th Dec, 1794, illustrates 
his views on this head : 

" I hope N will amuse herself sometimes with her 

spinning-wheel. God only knows what may one day be her 
situation. Polite accomplishments merit attention, useful 
knowledge should not be neglected. Let us do the best we 
can with, and for our children, and commit them to the pro- 
tection and guidance of Providence/' 



By his servants, his poorer neighbors, and all who were in 
any way dependent on him, he was reverenced and loved. He 
promptly and liberally responded to all movements calculated 
to promote the general good. In one instance of- this kind, 
he showed an adroitness in his beneficence which is somewhat 
amusing. The townspeople were about to erect a school-house, 
and it was apprehended that from mistaken considerations of 
economy, the building would be less substantial in its construc- 
tion than was desirable. When, therefore, the subscription 
list was presented to Jay, he put down a liberal sum against 
his name " if of wood, if of stone, double." Another example 
occurs in his dealings with his less fortunate neighbors, evincing 
the union of austere and inflexible regard for public justice 
with the most sensitive sympathy with individual suffering, 
which is cited in Professor Mc Vicar's appreciative and eloquent 
sketch of Jay's life. The case referred to is that of " a poor 
blacksmith in his neighborhood, who had encroached with his 
building on the public highway, and refused to recede ; Jay 
prosecuted him to the extreme rigor of the law, and having 
duly punished the offender, proceeded to make it up tenfold 
to the poor man by deeding to him an acre or two of ground 
from his own farm, in order that his necessities might be no 
plea for any further breach of the law." 

A pleasing reminiscence of Jay has been told by the son 
of the recipient of his bounty, a poor widow, whose utmost 
exertions were barely sufficient for the support of her family. 
Some time after the Governor's death, she received a note 
from Mr. William Jay, the occupant of the old mansion, re- 
questing her to visit him as he had some pleasant news for 
her. In great perplexity as to the nature of the promised 


communication, the good woman complied, and on arriving at 
the house, was thus addressed by that gentleman : " My 
father, before he died, requested to be buried in the plainest 
manner ; 'by so doing/ said he, ' there will be a saving of 
about two hundred dollars which I wish you to give to some 
poor widow whom you and your sister may consider most worthy, 
and I wish you to get the silver money and count it out now/ 
and," continued Mr. Jay, " my sister and I have selected you 
and here is the money." The gratitude of the widow found 
no answer but in tears as she bore away the treasure to her 
dwelling. The recollection of deeds like these is the imper- 
ishable inheritance which J ay has left to his descendants, and 
it is a distinction besides which mere heraldic honors fade into 
insignificance, that, from the beginning to this day, the great 
name of Jay has been inseparably linked with the cause of 
the neglected and oppressed against the encroachments of un- 
scrupulous power. 

The personal appearance of Jay, at the age of forty-four, is 
thus described by Mr. Sullivan : "He was a little less than 
five feet in height, his person rather thin but well formed. 
His complexion was without color, his eyes black and pene- 
trating, his nose aquiline, and his chin pointed. His hair 
came over his forehead, was tied behind and lightly powdered. 
His dress black. When standing, he was a little inclined 
forward, as is not uncommon with students long accus- 
tomed to bend over a table." With the exception of the mis- 
take as to the color of his eyes, which were blue and not 
black, this is probably an accurate picture. But it gives no 
idea of the blended dignity and courtesy which were apparent 
in his features and his habitual bearing, to a degree, says a 

jay. 227 

venerable informant, never witnessed in any other man of that 
time. His general appearance of reserve was sometimes mis- 
construed by those who were little acquainted with him into 
haughtiness. This was undoubtedly native, in some measure, 
to his character, but much, we have reason to suppose, existed 
more in appearance than in reality, and was the unavoidable 
expression of one long and intensely engaged in affairs of 
great moment, 

" Deep on whose front engraved 
Deliberation sat, and public cares." 

Not without a keen sense of the ludicrous, he rarely indulged 
in jocose remarks ; yet he is said, at times, when much impor- 
tuned for certain information or opinions which he did not care 
to reveal, to have shown a peculiarly shrewd humor in his re- 
plies, which baffled without irritating the inquirer. Perhaps 
a delicate piece of advice was never given in more skilfully 
worded and unexceptionable phraseology than in his answer to 
a confidential letter from Lord Grenville, inquiring as to the 
expediency of removing Mr. Hammond, the British Minister 
at Washington, who, for some reason or other, had become 
extremely distasteful to the government there. As Mr. Ham- 
mond was a personal friend to Jay, the inquiry was natur- 
ally embarrassing, but he still deemed it his duty to advise 
the minister's recall. Accordingly, in his reply, after first de- 
claring his friendship for Mr. Hammond and his entire confi- 
dence in that gentleman's ability and integrity, he refers to 
the unhappy diplomatic difficulties of that gentleman, and 
concludes by saying, " Hence I cannot forbear wishing that 
Mr. Hammond had a better place, and that a person well 


adapted to the existing state of things was sent to succeed 

As William Penn said of George Fox, Mr. Jay was "civil 
beyond all fonns of breeding ; " the natural refinement and 
purity of Ins disposition were expressed in his appearance and 
manners, and perhaps we might apply with propriety the re- 
mainder of Penn's description : — " He was a man whom God 
endowed with a clear and wonderful clejrih, — a discoverer of 
other men's spirits and very much the master of his own. 
The reverence and solemnity of his demeanor and the fewness 
and fulness of his words often struck strangers with admira- 
tion." In his character, the qualities of wisdom, decision, 
truthfulness, and justice held a supreme and unquestioned 
sway. Under their direction, he was often led into measures 
which seemed at first to hazard his own interests, as when at 
Paris he violated his congressional instructions for the benefit 
of his country ; but these measures were adopted with such de- 
liberation, and pursued with so unhesitating perseverance that 
their results invariably justified the course he had taken. The 
three most important concessions ever gained by America from 
foreign countries, the concessions which now our country most 
values and would be least willing to surrender, namely, the 
Navigation of the Mississippi, the Participation in the British 
Fisheries and the Trade with the West Indies, are due almost 
solely to the foresight, the diplomatic ability and the firmness 
of John Jay. When we consider the comparative insensibil- 
ity of Congress at that time, and the country at large, to the 
incalculable value of these rights, we may feel assured that 
had America sent abroad an agent of different character, the 
wily diplomatists of Europe would have found little difficulty 



in wresting them from us. Jay was moreover a man of deep 
and fervent piety — not that merely occasional ecstasy of devo- 
tional feeling, which, although perfectly sincere, is compatible 
with an habitual violation of all laws human and divine, but 
a constant sense of responsibility to a Supreme Being for every 
action of his life, under which he labored 

"As ever in the Great Taskmaster's eye." 

It was this combination of attributes, " inviting confidence, 
yet inspiring respect/' setting him apart from other men, yet 
drawing the multitude after him, that accounts for the con- 
stantly recurring demands upon his public services. The peo- 
ple felt that they could trust a man whose patriotism was not 
a temporary passion, but a well-defined and immovable prin- 
ciple, and they were never disappointed. In the complete har- 
mony of his moral and intellectual qualities, so wholly free 
from the disturbing influence of painful and dangerous eccen- 
tricities and the considerations of self, he approached nearer 
than any other statesman of his age to the majestic character 
of Washington, and on no one of his illustrious coadjutors 
did that great man place so uniform and so unhesitating a 

Jay had already exceeded the longest period allotted by 
the psalmist to the life of man, in the enjoyment of all those 
satisfactions which comfortable outward circumstances, the af- 
fection of friends and kindred, and the honor and reverence 
of a country whose vast and still enlarging prosperity were 
so much due to his exertions, can supply, when he received the 
unmistakable premonitions of his end. On the 17th of May, 
1828, having previously summoned the numerous members of 


the family to his bedside, and having bestowed on each his 
parting advice and benediction, he resigned his soul to the 
care of its Maker ; and now ; in the quiet grave-yard at Eye, 
near the spot where he passed the early years of his life, re- 
pose the august remains of John Jay. 

a m i 1 1 n 


WE have not the means of presenting a sketch of Hamil- 
ton's birth-place, or of the incidents of his early life 
before he became a resident in this country ; and so much of 
his subsequent life was spent in the camp and in the service 
of his country, wherever that service required him to be, that 
he can hardly be said to have had a "Home" until a few 
years before his splendid career was so suddenly and mourn- 
fully closed. 

He was born in the year 1756, in the Island of St. Nevis. 


one of the British West Indian possessions, whither his father, 
a native of Scotland, had gone with the purpose of engaging 
in mercantile pursuits ; and he was himself at the early age 
of twelve, placed in the counting-house of an opulent mer- 
chant, in one of the neighboring islands. But such a situa- 
tion was ill suited to his disposition ; and his ambition, even 
at that early period of his life, strongly developed, could not 
find in those narrow colonies a sufficient field for its exercise 
The wishes of his friends favored his own inclinations, and he 
was sent to New- York, that he might avail himself of the 
more ample facilities for acquiring an education which that 
place and its vicinity afforded. 

He went through with the studies preparatory to entering 
college at a school in Elizabcthtown, New Jersey, which was 
under the patronage of Governor Livingston and Mr. Bou- 
dinot, in the former of whose families he resided. He soon 
qualified himself for admission to King's (now Columbia) Col- 
lege, and was then permitted to pursue a course of study 
which he had marked out for himself, without becoming a 
member of any particular class. At this early period he evinc- 
ed those traits of character which afterwards conducted him 
to such high distinction, and which marked his career through- 
out. He brought to his tasks not only that diligence which is 
often exhibited by more ordinary minds, but that enthusiastic 
devotion of the soul, which was perhaps the most marked trait 
of his character. 

It was while he was yet in college, that the disputes be- 
tween the colonies and the mother country, just preliminary 
to the breaking out of hostilities, arose ; but they even then en- 
gaged his earnest attention. It is probable that the tendency 



of his mind at that time, as in the later period of his life, was 
towards conservative views ; and indeed, he has himself said 
" that he had, at first, entertained strong prejudices on the 
ministerial side." But a mind so investigating and a spirit 
so generous as his would not be likely to entertain such preju- 
dices long ; and having made a visit to Boston and become 
excited by the tone of public feeling in that city, he directed 
his attention to the real merits of the controversy, and this, 
aided perhaps by the natural order of his temperament, pro- 
duced in him a thorough conviction of the justice of the Ameri- 
can cause. With his characteristic earnestness, he threw him- 
self at once into the contest, and while but eighteen years of 
age he addressed a public meeting upon the subject of the 
wrongs inflicted by the mother country, and acquitted himself 
in a manner which amazed and delighted his hearers, and drew 
to him the public attention. 

A meeting of the citizens of New- York had been called to 
consider upon the choice of delegates to the first Congress. 
A large concourse of people assembled, and the occasion was 
long remembered as "the great meeting in the fields." Ham- 
ilton was then, of course, comparatively unknown, but some 
of his neighbors having occasion to remark his contemplative 
habits and the vigor and maturity of his thoughts, urged him 
to address the multitude, and after some hesitation he con- 

"The novelty of the attempt, his slender and diminutive 
form, awakened curiosity and arrested attention. Overawed 
by the scene before him, he at first hesitated and faltered, but 
as he proceeded almost unconsciously to utter his accustomed 
reflections, his mind warmed with the theme, his energies 


were recovered ; and after a discussion, clear, cogent, and novel, 
of the great principles involved in the controversy, he depicted 
in glowing colors the long continued and long endured oppres- 
sions of the mother country. He insisted on the duty of re- 
sistance, pointed out the means and certainty of success, and 
described the waves of rebellion sparkling with fire and wash- 
ing back upon the shores of England the wrecks of her power, 
her wealth, and her glory. The breathless silence ceased as 
he closed, and the whispered murmur — c it is a collegian, it is 
a collegian/ was lost in expressions of wonder and applause 
at the extraordinary eloquence of the young stranger." * 

About the same time he published anonymously two 
pamphlets in reply to publications emanating from the 
ministerial party, and in vindication of the measures of the 
American Congress. The powerful and eloquent manner in 
which the topics in controversy were discussed, excited great 
attention. The authorship of the pamphlets was attributed 
by some to Governor Livingston and by others to John Jay, 
and these contributed to give to those gentlemen, already dis- 
tinguished, an increased celebrity ; and when it was ascertained 
that the youthful Hamilton was the author of them, the pub- 
lic could scarcely credit the fact. 

Upon the actual breaking out of hostilities, Hamilton im- 
mediately applied himself to the study of military science, and 
obtained from the State of New- York a commission as captain 
of a company of artillery. His conduct at once attracted the 
observing eye of Washington, who soon invited him to become 
one of Ins staff with the commission of Lieutenant Colonel. 

* Life of Hamilton, by his son, John C. Hamilton, Vol. I. p. 22. 



Hamilton accepted the offer, and for the space of four years 
remained in the family of Washington, enjoying his unlimited 
confidence, carrying on a large portion of his correspondence, 
and aiding him in the conduct of the most important affairs. 
A hasty word from the latter led to a rupture of this connec- 
tion, and Hamilton left the staff and resumed his place as an 
officer in the line ; but Washington's confidence in him was 
not in the least impaired, and their friendship continued warm 
and sincere until the death of the latter. 

In thus separating himself from the family of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Hamilton was influenced by other motives 
than displeasure at the conduct of Washington. He knew 
that great man too well, and loved him too well, to allow a 
hasty word of rebuke to break up an attachment which had 
begun at the breaking out of the war, and which a familiar in- 
tercourse of four years, an ardent love of the cause, and a de- 
votion to it common to them both had deepened and confirmed. 
But the duties of a secretary and adviser, important as they 
then were, were not adequate to call forth all his various 
powers, and the performance of them, however skilful, was not 
sufficient to satisfy that love of glory which he so fondly cher- 
ished. He was born to act in whatever situation he might 
be placed a first rate part. He longed to distinguish himself 
in the battles as well as in the councils of the war. He felt 
that his country had need of his arm as well as of his pen ; 
and thus the dictates of patriotism, which he never in the 
course of his life allowed to stand separate from the prompt- 
ings of his high ambition, pointed out to him the course he 
took. He would not, of his own motion, leave the immediate 
services of Washington ; but when the opportunity was pre- 


sented by the latter, he at once embraced it, and would not be 
persuaded by any considerations to return to his former place. 

A short time previous to his leaving the family of Wash- 
ington he had formed an engagement with the second daugh- 
ter of Gen. Philip Schuyler, of New- York, to whom he was 
married on the 14th of December, 1780, at the residence of 
her father at Albany, and thus became permanently establish- 
ed in New- York. His union with this lady was one of unbro- 
ken happiness, and at a venerable age she still survives him. 

His rank in the army was soon after advanced, and an op- 
portunity for exhibiting his military skill and prowess, which 
he had so ardently wished for, was shortly presented. The 
falling fortunes of the British army in the south, under Lord 
Cornwallis, invited an attack in that quarter. The combined 
French and American forces were fast closing up every avenue 
of retreat, and the British commander finding that to avoid a 
general engagement was impossible, at last intrenched himself 
at Yorktown with the determination of making a final stand 
against the victorious progress of the American arms. In 
the decisive battle which succeeded, Hamilton signalized 
himself by a most brilliant achievement. Two redoubts in 
the fortifications of the enemy were to be carried in face of a 
most destructive fire. The attack upon one of them was as- 
signed to a detachment of the French troops, and that 
upon the other to a division of the American forces. The 
command of the latter, at his earnest request, was given to 
Hamilton. At the appointed signal he " gave the order to ad- 
vance at the point of the bayonet, pushed forward, and before 
the rest of the corps had ascended the abatis, mounted over it, 
stood for a moment on the parapet with three of his soldiers, 



encouraging the others to follow, and sprung into the ditch. 
The American infantry, animated by the address and example 
of their leader, pressed on with muskets unloaded and fixed 
bayonets. They soon reached the counterscarp under a heavy 
and constant fire from the redoubt, and, surmounting the abatis, 
ditch, and palisades, mounted the parapet and leaped into the 
work. Hamilton, who had pressed forward, followed by the 
rear- guard under Mansfield, was for a time lost sight of, and it 
was feared he had fallen ; but he soon reappeared, formed the 
troops in the redoubt, and as soon as it surrendered gave the 
command to Major Fish. 

" The impetuosity of the attack carried all before it, and 
within nine minutes from the time the abatis was passed the 
work was gained/' * This brilliant exploit received the deci- 
sive commendation of Washington. " Few cases," said he, 
"have exhibited greater proofs of intrepidity, coolness, and firm- 
ness than were shown on this occasion." 

The battle of Yorktown decided the event of the war of 
the Kevolution. The profession of a soldier could no longer 
give sufficient scope to the restless activity of Hamilton ; al- 
though then occupying a distinguished place among the most 
illustrious of his countrymen, and yielding, though not with- 
out regret, his arms for the toga, he selected for his future 
employment the profession of the law — a pursuit for which his 
general studies and the character of his mind, as well as his 
inclination, eminently fitted him. 

From the period of his admission to the bar until the as- 
sembling of the convention which framed the constitution un- 

* Life of Hamilton, Vol. 1 p. 382. 


der which we now live, his time and labors were divided be- 
tween the practice of his profession and the service of the pub- 
lic in various capacities. Of the convention he was chosen a 
member, and he brought to the performance of his duties in 
that body the purest patriotism, and abilities unsurpassed, if 
indeed equalled, in that assembly of illustrious men. He took 
from the outset a most conspicuous part in its deliberations, 
throwing upon every important subject which was discussed, the 
blended lights of his genius, experience, and learning. As the 
sessions of the convention were held in secret, we have but an 
imperfect knowledge of its proceedings ; and the meagre and 
fragmentary reports which we possess of the speeches which 
were delivered in it give us a very inadequate notion of the 
masterly efforts of Hamilton. But the testimony of his asso- 
ciates in the convention, and the imperfect records we have of 
its deliberations, join in ascribing to him a foremost place ; and 
an impartial student of our constitution and history, himself 
a profound statesman and philosopher, M. Guizot, has said 
that there is in our political system scarcely an element of 
order and durability for which we are not in a great measure 
indebted to the genius of Hamilton. Indeed he was the very 
first to point out the radical defects in the old confederation, 
and the absolute necessity of a government based upon a dif- 
ferent foundation, and invested with more ample powers. The 
restoration of the public credit, the creation of a currency, the 
promotion of commerce, the preservation of the public faith 
with foreign countries, the general tranquillity — these were 
topics which he had discussed in all their relations long be- 
fore the meeting of the convention, and he had early arrived 
at the conclusion that these great ends were to be reached in 



no other way than by the establishment of a National Gov- 
ernment, emanating directly from the people at large, sove- 
reign in its own sphere, and responsible to the people alone for 
the manner in which its powers were executed. In the Con- 
stitution, when it was presented for adoption, Hamilton saw 
some objectionable features. These he had opposed in the 
convention ; but finding that such opposition was likely to 
throw obstacles in the way of any final agreement, and reor- 
ganizing in the instrument proposed to be adopted the essen- 
tial features of his own plan, and wisely regarding it as the 
best scheme that could unite the varying opinions of men, he 
patriotically withdrew his opposition and gave it his hearty as- 

Hamilton was chosen a member of the convention which 
met at Poughkeepsie to consider the question of ratifying it, 
and he urged the adoption of it in a series of masterly speeches, 
which powerfully contributed to its final ratification. At the 
same time, in conjunction with Madison and Jay, he was en- 
gaged in the composition of those immortal papers, which, un- 
der the name of the "Federalist," exercised at the time such a 
potent influence, and which have even since been received as 
authoritative commentaries upon the instrument, the wisdom 
and expediency of which they so eloquently and successfully 
vindicated. In view of the extraordinary exertions of Hamil- 
ton in behalf of the Constitution, both with his tongue and 
pen, and of the fact that if New- York had rejected it, it would 
probably have failed to receive the sanction of a sufficient num- 
ber of States, we think that it may without injustice to others 
be said, that for the ratification of our Constitution we are 


more indebted to the labors of Hamilton than to those of any 
other single man. 

When the new government went into operation with Wash- 
ington at its head, Hamilton was called to fill what was then 
the most important place in the cabinet, that of Secretary of 
the Treasury. He then addressed himself to the task of car- 
rying out the great purpose for which the Constitution was 
adopted — a task, the successful accomplishment of which rested 
more in the skilful administration of the Treasury depart- 
ment than that of any office under government ; for upon this 
hung the great issues of the currency and the jDublic credit. 
With what ability he executed his great trust in the face of a 
powerful and most virulent opposition, the event has fully 
shown. The system of finance which he concocted and ap- 
plied has been adhered to without substantial change through- 
out the subsequent history of the government, and well justi- 
fies the magnificent eulogy which Webster has bestowed upon 
its author. " He smote the rock of the national resources, and 
abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. He touched the 
dead corpse of the Public Credit, and it sprung upon its feet. 
The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was 
hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system 
of the United States, as it burst forth from the conceptions of 
Alexander Hamilton." * 

From the Treasury department he returned to the prac- 
tice of his profession, and the calmer walks of private life ; but 
his love for his country and the anxiety he felt for her welfare 
would not permit him to relinquish the prominent place he 

* Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. I, p. 200. 

Residence of Alexander Hamilton, near Manhattanville, N. Y 



held as the leader of the Federal party. He regarded with 
great distrust and apprehension the principles and the prac- 
tices of the rapidly increasing Democratic party. Many of 
its leaders he believed to be destitute of principle, and he 
spared no exertions in opposing them, and in endeavoring to 
stay the progress of radical opinions, and to infuse a spirit of 
moderation and wisdom into the politics of the nation. 

He was now in the prime of life. A practice in his profes- 
sion at that time without parallel in extent and importance, 
afforded him an abundant income, and held out a prospect of 
a competent fortune. He therefore retired from the city, pur- 
chased a beautiful spot in the upper part of the island of New- 
York, and there built the tasteful residence of which an engrav- 
ing is prefixed to this sketch, and which of the many places 
where he resided may most appropriately be called his "Home." 
It is, we believe, the only house in New- York, in which he lived, 
that is now standing. Of the one in the island of St. Nevis, 
in which he was born, we have never seen any representation 
or description. During a small portion of his college life, he 
resided with Mr. Hercules Mulligan in Water-street ; but the 
house was long since torn down. 

After the close of the war, and during the first years of 
his practice at the bar, Hamilton occupied a house in Wall- 
street, nearly opposite the " Federal Hall," the site of the pre- 
sent Custom House. It was on the outer balcony of Federal 
Hall that Washington took the oath of inauguration upon his 
first election, and Hamilton, with a party of his friends, wit- 
nessed that imposing ceremony from the balcony of his own 
house. This building has, with most others of its time, been 
taken down, and a new one erected in its place to accommodate 


that mighty march of commercial enterprise which is fast 
sweeping away the last vestiges which mark the dwelling-places 
of the last generation. 

The spot which Hamilton selected for his " Home," and 
to which he gave the name of " Grange/' from that of the 
residence of his grandfather in Ayrshire, Scotland, was chosen 
with taste and judgment, both on account of its natural 
beauty, and the interesting and inspiring recollections which 
its vicinity suggested. It was, at that time, completely in the 
country, without an object to remind one of the neighborhood 
of the town ; and even now the population of the city, so pro- 
digiously expanded, has not much encroached upon its original 
limits. It is situated upon the old King's Bridge road, about 
eight miles from the heart of the city, and something less than 
a mile above the ancient village of Manhattan, and is about 
midway between the Hudson Kiver on the one side and the 
Harlem on the other. The west side, which lies on the King's 
Bridge road, is adorned by a fine growth of large shade trees. 
From these it extends with gentle undulations to a declivity, 
at the base of which lie the Harlem commons. The grounds 
are simply but tastefully laid out, chiefly with a view to take 
advantage of and display the natural features of the place. 
The house is situated nearly in the centre of the grounds, and 
is reached by a gently-winding carriage-way. The stable is 
placed in the rear of the house and at a distance from it, and 
is concealed by a thick growth of trees. A gravelled walk 
winds among the shade trees along the road, and thence across 
the grounds and along the other side. The space in front 
and on the left of the house is laid out in a fine lawn, in 
which the uneven surface of the ground is preserved, dotted 



here and there with fine trees, the natural growth of the spot. 
Near the house and on the left are thirteen flourishing gum 
trees, said to have been left by Hamilton himself when clearing 
the spot, as an emblem of the thirteen original States. 

The house itself is in form nearly square, of moderate size 
and well proportioned. The front is on the southern side ; it 
is two stories in height, exclusive of the basement, and would 
have been at the time it was built a handsome and expensive 
one. The basement is used for culinary purposes, and the first 
story, which contains the parlors, is reached by a short flight 
of steps. You enter a commodious hall of a pentagonal form. 
On either side is a small apartment, of which the one on the 
right was the study, and contained the library of Hamilton. 
At the end of the hall are the doors, one on the right and 
the other on the left, which open into the parlors. These are 
of moderate size and connected by doors, by opening which 
they are thrown into one large room. The one on the right 
as you enter the house, is now, and probably was when Ham- 
ilton occupied it, used as a dining-room. The other parlor is 
furnished for the drawing-room. It is an octagon in form, 
of wliich three sides are occupied by doors, leading to the hall 
in front, the dining-room, and to a hall in the rear. In two 
of the opposite sides are windows reaching to the floor, and 
opening upon the lawn on the easterly side of the house. The 
three doors before mentioned are faced with mirrors, and 
being directly opposite the windows, they throw back the de- 
lightful landscape which appears through the latter with a 
pleasing effect. The story above is commodious, and divided 
into the usual apartments. On the north the prospect is in- 
terrupted by higher ground, and on the south by trees. On 


the west a view is caught of the beautiful shore of New 
Jersey, on the opposite side of the Hudson. From the east- 
ern side, and especially from the balcony which extends in 
front of the windows of the drawing-room, a magnificent pros- 
pect is presented. The elevation being some two hundred feet 
above the surrounding waters, a complete view of the lower 
lands and of the country in the distance is commanded. 
Harlem with its river, the East River and Long Island Sound 
now dotted with a thousand sails, the fertile county of West- 
chester, and Long Island stretching away to the horizon, with 
its lovely and diversified scenery, are all in full view. 

This spot has, and probably had for Hamilton, its attrac- 
tions in another respect. In its immediate neighborhood 
were the scenes of some of the memorable and interesting 
events of the Eevolution. He had passed directly over it with 
the American army in its retreat from New- York, after the 
disastrous battle of Long Island. Within a short distance 
from it are the Harlem Heights, where by his bravery and ad- 
dress, while yet but a boy, he had attracted the eye of Wash- 
ington, and enjoyed his first interview with him. A little fur- 
ther towards the north is Fort Washington, in which the 
continental army made its last stand upon the island, and the 
loss of which sealed the fate of New- York for the war. It 
was this fort which, in the ardor of his youthful enthusiasm 
and burning with chagrin at its capture, he promised Wash- 
ington he would retake, if he would place a small and select 
detachment under his command — an enterprise which the 
Commander-in-Chief thought too hazardous. Just across the 
river on the Jersey side is Fort Lee, which fell into the hands 
of the enemy soon after the capture of Fort Washington ; 



and a short distance above, in the King's Bridge road, is the 
house which after the death of Hamilton became the resi- 
dence of his bitter and fatal antagonist, Aaron Burr. 

When he had fixed his residence in this beautiful and at- 
tractive spot he was in the prime of life, in excellent health, 
and in prosperous circumstances. He had been most fortunate 
in his domestic relations, and had around him a happy family 
to which he was fondly devoted. His unrivalled natural 
powers had been exercised and improved by a training of 
thirty years in the camp, the forum, the senate and the cab- 
inet. He was almost worshipped by his friends and his party, 
and regarded by all as one of the very pillars of the State. 
Every thing in his situation and circumstances seemed auspi- 
cious of a still long career of happiness and honor to himself, 
of usefulness and honor to his country. But in the midst 
of all this, he was suddenly cut off by the melancholy and 
fatal duel with Col. Burr. 

The public and private character of Burr, Hamilton had 
long known and despised. He regarded him as a dangerous 
man, and one wholly unfit to fill any office of trust or emolu- 
ment. And this opinion, although avoiding open controversy 
with Burr himself, he had not scrupled to express privately to 
his own political friends, for the purpose of dissuading them 
from giving any support to one so little to be depended on. 
He recognized himself no other claim to political distinction 
than honesty of purpose, the ability and the will to serve the 
country, united with what he deemed to be sound political 
principles, neither of which recommendations could he dis- 
cover in Aaron Burr. 

Burr had, on the other hand, few ends in life save his own 


advancement, and he scrupled at no means by which this object 
might be compassed ; but in his most deeply laid schemes, he 
saw that the vigilant eye of Hamilton was upon him, and 
after his defeat in 1804 as a candidate for governor of the 
State of New- York, stung with mortification at his overthrow, 
and justly deeming the influence of Hamilton as one of the 
most potent causes of it, he resolved to fix a quarrel upon 
him. Seizing upon an expression which was contained in a 
letter, published during the recent political contest, but which 
had been forgotten by every one save himself, he dragged it 
before Hamilton's attention, tortured it into an imputation 
upon his personal honor, demanded of Hamilton an explana- 
tion which it was impossible for him to give, and made his 
refusal the pretext for a peremptory challenge. 

In accepting the challenge of Burr, Hamilton was but 
little under the influence of those motives which are common- 
ly uppermost in such contests. To the practice of duelling 
he was sincerely and upon principle opposed, and had fre- 
quently borne his testimony against it. His reputation for 
personal courage had been too often tried, and too signally 
proved to be again put at risk. His passions, though strong, 
were under his control, and that sensitiveness on the score of 
personal honor, which a man of spirit naturally cherishes, 
and which the habits of a military life rendered prompt and 
delicate, was in him satisfied by a conscious integrity of pur- 
pose. His disposition was forgiving and gentle to a fault, and 
made it impossible for him to feel any personal ill will even 
towards such a man as Burr. The manifold obligations which 
as an honest and conscientious man he was bound to regard 
— his duties to a loved and dependent family, and his country, 



which held almost an equal place in his affections, united to 
dissuade him from meeting his adversary. And yet these lat- 
ter, viewed in connection with his peculiar position, with popu- 
lar prejudices, and the circumstances of the times, were what 
impelled him to his fatal resolution. His theoretic doubts re- 
specting a republican form of government, while they did not 
in the least diminish his preference for our jDolitical system, 
yet made him painfully anxious in regard to its success. He 
thought that every thing depended upon keeping the popular 
mind free from the corruption of false principles, and the 
offices of trust and honor out of the hands of bad men. To 
these ends he had been, and still was, employing all his energy 
and influence. He could not bear the thought of losing or 
weakening by any step, however justifiable in itself, that influ- 
ence which he had reason to think was not exerted in vain. 
These were the large and unselfish considerations which gov- 
erned him ; and though a cool observer removed from the ex- 
citement and perplexities of the time may pronounce them 
mistaken, still if impartial he must regard them as sincere. 
They were what Hamilton himself, in full view of the solem- 
nity of the step he was about to take, and of the possible 
event of it, declared to be his motive. " The ability," said he 
in the last paper he ever wrote, " to be in future useful, whe- 
ther in resisting mischief or effecting good in those crises of 
our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would proba- 
bly be inseparable from a conformity with prejudice in this 

After some fruitless endeavors on the part of Hamilton to 
convince Burr of the unreasonableness of the request which 
the latter had made, all explanations were closed, and the 


preliminaries for the meeting were arranged. Hamilton bav- 
ins: no wish to take the life of Burr, had come to the deter- 
mination to throw away his first shot, — a course too which 
approved itself to his feelings for other reasons. 

The grounds of Weehawk, on the Jersey shore opposite 
New- York, were at that time the usual field of these single 
combats, then chiefly by the inflamed state of political feel- 
ing of frequent occurrence, and very seldom ending without 
bloodshed. The day having been fixed, and the horn appoint- 
ed at seven o'clock in the morning, the parties met, accompa- 
nied only by their servants. The bargemen, as well as Dr. 
Hosack, the surgeon mutually agreed upon, remained as usual 
at a distance, in order, if any fatal result should occur, not to 
be witnesses. The parties having exchanged salutations, the 
seconds measured the distance of ten paces, loaded the pistols, 
made the other preliminary arrangements, and placed the 
comba tants. At the appointed signal, Burr took deliberate aim 
and fired. The ball entered Hamilton's side, and as he fell, 
his pistol too was unconsciously discharged. Burr approached 
him, apparently somewhat moved, but on the suggestion of his 
second, the surgeon and bargemen already approaching, he 
turned and hastened away, Van Ness coolly covering him 
from their sight by opening an umbrella. The surgeon found 
Hamilton half lying, half sitting on the ground, supported in 
the arms of his second. The pallor of death was on his face. 
" Doctor," he said, this is a mortal wound ; " and, as if over- 
come by the effort of speaking, he swooned quite away. As 
he was carried across the river the fresh breeze revived him. 
His own house being in the country, he was conveyed at once 
to the house of a friend, where he lingered for twenty-four 



hours in great agony, but preserving his composure and self- 
command to the last.""" 

The melancholy event of the duel affected the whole coun- 
try, and New- York in particular, with the deepest indignation 
and grief. The avenues to the house where Hamilton was 
carried before he expired, were thronged with anxious citizens. 
His funeral was celebrated by a mournful pageant, and an 
oration in Trinity Church by Governeur Morris, which stirred 
up the people like the speech of Antony over the corpse of 
Caesar, to a " sudden flood of mutiny." Burr, with an indict- 
ment for murder hanging over him, fled secretly from the city 
to the South, where he remained until the excitement had in 
a measure subsided. His wretched end, and the place which 
history has assigned to him, leave room at present for no other 
emotions save those of regret and pity. In the deep gloom 
which the death of Hamilton occasioned, his political oppo- 
nents almost equally shared. In contemplating his character 
they seemed to catch some portion of his own magnanimity, 
and the animosities of which he had been so conspicuous an 
object, were swallowed up in the conviction that a great and 
irreparable loss had fallen equally upon all. 

There was not, we think, at that time, a life which might 
not have been better spared than that of Hamilton. Certain- 
ly no man represented so well as he, the character and the 
principles of Washington ; and no man was gifted with an 
array of qualities which better fitted him either as a magistrate 
or a man to control aright the opinions and the actions of a 
people like that of the United States. He was a man " built 
up on every side." He had received from nature a most capa- 

* Hildreth's History of the United States. Ne\v Series, vol. ii. p. 524. 


cious and admirable intellect, which had been exercised and 
developed by deep study and large experience in the practical 
conduct of affairs. His education was like that which Milton 
describes as " fitting to a man to perform justly, sldlfully and 
magnanimously, all the offices, both public and private, of 
peace and war/' His opinions were definite and fixed ; were 
held with the confidence which is the result of complete con- 
viction ; and came from him recommended by a powerful elo- 
quence, and a persuasive fairness and magnanimity. The 
strength of Ins passions gave him an almost unbounded 
influence over the minds of others, which he never perverted to 
selfish purposes or unworthy ends. 

A lofty integrity was one of the most prominent traits of 
his character. It was not, as in his great contemporary Jay, 
clothed with the appearance of austerity, nor did it, perhaps, 
so much as in the latter spring from a constant and habitual 
sense of responsibility to a Supreme Being ; but it was rather 
a rare and noble elevation of soul, the spontaneous develop- 
ment of a nature which could not harbor a base or unworthy 
motive, cherished indeed and fortified by a firm faith and a 
strong religious temperament. It was this which enabled him 
to spend so long a period of his fife in the public service in 
the exercise of the most important public trusts— among 
them that of the Treasury department, with the whole finan- 
cial arrangements of the country under his control, and come 
from it all without a stain or a suspicion. His character for 
uprightness might be presented as an example in illustration 
of the fine precept of Horace : 

Hie mums aheneus esto 

Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa. 



Political hostility and private malice explored every cor- 
ner of his life with the hope of fixing a stain upon his official 
integrity ; but these miserable attempts had no other effect 
than to bring defeat and disgrace on the authors of them. 
His honesty was as conspicuous in his private as in his public 
career, and was indeed sometimes carried to an extent which 
we fear might seem in our times like an absurd refinement. 
When about to enter upon his duties as Secretary of the 
Treasury, he was applied to by some friends engaged in mone- 
tary transactions for information with respect to the policy 
which he proposed to pursue, the disclosure of which would 
perhaps promote their interests, and not injure those of the 
public. But this he utterly refused to give, holding it as in- 
consistent with his duty as a public servant, to make his office 
even the indirect means of contributing to the emolument of 
friends by imparting to them information which was not open 
to all alike. While at the bar, and practising only as counsel- 
lor, he was associated with the Messrs. Ogden, who were then 
leading members of the profession in New- York city, and he 
received only the retaining and trial fees, though his reputa- 
tion brought to the office a large proportion of all the impor- 
tant suits which arose. It was proposed to him to form a 
connection with other attorneys, by which engagement he 
might receive a portion of the attorney's fees in addition ; but 
this offer he at once rejected, saying that he could not consent 
to receive any compensation for services not his own, or for 
the character of which he was not responsible. 

In his disposition he was one of the most amiable and 
attractive of men ; and though capable of strong indignation, 
which made him always respected and sometimes feared by his 


adversaries, he was yet of such a mild and placable temper 
that no man could be long and sincerely his enemy. In per- 
son he was rather below the average height, his form was well 
proportioned, and his manner dignified and conciliating. The 
lower features of his countenance were regular and handsome, 
and beaming with the warm affections and generous senti- 
ments of his heart. His brow and forehead were of a mas- 
sive cast, expressive of the commanding intellect which lay 
behind. He was fond of society, full of the most lively and 
various conversation, which made him the delight and orna- 
ment of every circle he entered. During his time the Su- 
preme Court used to hold its terms at New- York and Albany 
alternately, and the bar was then obliged to follow it back 
and forth between those cities, the journey occupying at that 
time three or four days. Of course this was a season of hilar- 
ity, and upon such occasions Hamilton was the life of the 
party, sometimes charming the whole company by his inge- 
nious and eloquent discussions of the various subjects of con- 
versation, and at others calling forth shouts of laughter by 
his pointed and genial wit. An anecdote has been related to 
us by one who was present on the occasion, which well illus- 
trates the power which lay in his fascinating manner and 
conversation. During the hostilities between France and Eng- 
land, which succeeded the revolution in the former country, 
a French man of war having on board Jerome Bonaparte, the 
brother of Napoleon, and afterwards king of Westphalia, was 
chased into the harbor of New- York by two English frigates. 
It was during the visit which Jerome was thus compelled to 
make to this country, that he became acquainted with and 
married the beautiful Miss Patterson, of Baltimore. The 



genius and the fortunes of Napoleon were then for the first 
time astonishing the world, and caused Jerome to be received 
with the most extraordinary marks of attention in the different 
cities of the United States. While he was in New- York 
Hamilton made a dinner party for him, to which a number of 
the chief personages of the time were invited. He was then 
living at " Grange," and, as it happened, upon the very day of 
the party was engaged in the argument of an important cause 
in the city, which detained him there until after the hour for 
which his guests were invited. A long delay ensued after the 
company had assembled, and the embarrassment of Mrs. Ham- 
ilton may be imagined. There was evidently a feeling of un- 
easiness and discontent springing up in the minds of the guests, 
and especially was this the case with the distinguished brother 
of the First Consul. He was affected with the usual sensi- 
tiveness of a novus homo upon the point of etiquette, and it 
seemed to pass his comprehension how a man of Hamilton's 
private and official eminence should be engaged in any of the 
ordinary pursuits of life, and especially that such concerns, 
or any concerns whatever, should be allowed to detain him a 
single moment from the society of his guests, one of whom 
had the honor to be no less a person than Jerome Bonaparte. 
At a late hour, after the quality of the dinner and the tem- 
per of the guests had become about equally impaired, Hamil- 
ton arrived. He was met by his desponding wife, and in- 
formed of the distressing predicament which his delay had 
occasioned. After making a hasty toilet, he entered the 
drawing-room, and found that the affair indeed wore a most 
perilous aspect. The appearance of the distinguished French- 
man was especially unpromising. But Hamilton was quite 


equal to the emergency. Gracefully apologizing for his tardi- 
ness, he at once entered into a most animated and eloquent 
conversation, drew out his different guests with admirable 
dexterity, and enlisted them with one another, and especially 
recommended himself to the late Miss Patterson by a lively 
chat in French, of which language he was a master. The 
discontented features of the Bonaparte began to relax, and it 
soon became evident that he was in the most amiable mood, 
and one of the most gratified of the party. The dinner pass- 
ed off admirably, and it seemed to be generally conceded that 
the delay in the beginning was amply atoned for by the de- 
lightful entertainment which followed. 

We should do injustice to one of the most amiable traits 
of Hamilton's character if we omitted particularly to notice 
the strength and tenderness of his friendships. Incapable of 
treachery, free from all disguise, and imbued with the largest 
sympathies, he drew to himself the esteem and affection of all 
who knew him ; and such was his admiration for noble and 
generous qualities, that he could not see them displayed with- 
out clasping their possessors to his heart. He was a general 
favorite in the army, and between some of the choicest spirits 
in it and himself, there was an almost romantic affection. 
Those that knew him best loved him most. The family of 
Washington were as dear to him as if they were kindred by 
blood. Meade, McHenry, Tilghman, the " Old Secretary," 
Harrison, and the generous and high-souled Laurens, were in 
every change of fortune his cherished and bosom friends. 
The following extract from a letter to Laurens, shows the 
nature of Hamilton's attachment. " Cold in my professions, 

H AM I L T N. 


warm in my friendships, I wish my dear Laurens it were in 
my power, by actions rather than by words, to convince you 
that I love you. I shall only tell you that till you bid us 
adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to 
set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it were not well done. You 
know the opinion I entertain of mankind ; and how much it 
is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attach- 
ments, and to keep my happiness free from the caprices of 
others. You should not have taken advantage of my sensi- 
bility to steal into my affections, without my consent." The 
openness of his heart and the flexibility of his manners made 
him a great favorite with the French officers. Lafayette loved 
him as a brother, and in one of his letters to him thus writes : 
" I know the General's (Washington's) friendship and grati- 
tude for you, my dear Hamilton ; both are greater than you 
perhaps imagine. I am sure he needs only to be told that 
something will suit you, and when he thinks he can do it, he 
certainly will. Before this campaign I was your friend, and 
very intimate friend, agreeably to the ideas of the world ; 
since my second voyage, my sentiment has increased to such 
a point the world knows nothing about. To show both, from 
want and from scorn of expression, I shall only tell you, 
adieu/' Talleyrand, the celebrated minister of Napoleon, 
whatever may be said of the character of his diplomacy, had a 
heart that was capable of friendship, and while in this coun- 
try conceived a particular fondness for Hamilton, and on his 
departure for France he took from the house of the latter, 
without permission, a miniature belonging to Mrs. Hamilton 
of her husband. When fairly out of reach he addressed a 


note to Mrs. Hamilton confessing the larceny, and excusing it 
on the ground that he wanted a copy of it, but knew that 
she would not let him take the original away to be copied if 
he had made the request. He had an excellent copy of the 
miniature taken upon Sevres china, which he always kept in a 
conspicuous place in his apartment until late in life, when he 
presented it with a lock of his hair to a son of Hamilton, James 
A. Hamilton Esq., of Dobb's Ferry, N. Y., who still retains it. 
The indignation t of Talleyrand at the conduct of Burr in 
bringing about the melancholy duel was unbounded ; and 
when Burr, subsequently to that event, was on a visit to France, 
he wrote a note to Talleyrand, requesting the privilege of pay- 
ing him a visit. Of course the French minister could not 
refuse this favor to a man who had been Vice-President of the 
United States, and in other respects so eminent a person ; but 
Ins answer was something like tins : " The Minister of For- 
eign Affairs would be happy to see Col. Burr at — (naming the 
hour) ; but M. Talleyrand thinks it due to Col. Burr to state, 
that he always has the miniature of General Hamilton hang- 
ing over his mantel-piGce." 

In contemplating the life of Hamilton, it is of course im- 
possible not to feel the deepest regret that so much genius, so 
much usefulness, and so much promise, should have been so 
prematurely cut off. Great as was his actual performance, it 
is natural and reasonable to suppose that the results of his 
youth and early manhood would have been far eclipsed by 
those of his splendid maturity. But as it is, " he lived long 
enough for glory." The influence of his presence and man- 
ners, the excitements in which he mingled when alive — every 



thing which tends to give a fictitious importance to present 
greatness, have passed away. But his reputation, which some 
have thought to rest upon these very circumstances, stands un- 
affected by their decay,— a fact which sufficiently attests the 
enduring nature of his fame. 


JOHN MARSHALL, son of Colonel Thomas Marshall, a 
planter of moderate fortune, was born in Germantown, 
Fauquier County, Virginia, on the twenty-fourth of Septem- 
ber, 1755. When twenty-one years of age, he was commis- 
sioned as a lieutenant in the continental service, and marching 
with his regiment to the north, was appointed captain in the 
spring of 1777, and in that capacity served in the battles of 
Brandywine, Garmantown, and Monmouth; was at Valley 


Forge during the winter of 1778, and was one of the covering 
party at the assault of Stoney Point, in June, 1779. Having 
returned to his native State at the expiration of the enlist- 
ment of the Virginia troops, in 1780 he received a license for 
the practice of the law, and rapidly rose to distinction in that 
profession. In 1782 he was chosen a representative to the 
legislature, and afterward a member of the executive council. 
In January, 1783, he married Mary Willis Ambler, of York, 
in Virginia, with whom he lived for fifty years in the tenderest 
affection. He was a delegate to the convention of Virginia 
which met on the second of June, 1788, to take into consider- 
ation the new constitution, and in conjunction with his friend, 
Mr. Madison, mainly contributed to its adoption, in opposition 
to the ardent efforts of Henry, Grayson, and Mason. His 
name first became generally known throughout the nation by 
his vindication, in the legislature of the State, of the ratifica- 
tion of Jay's treaty by President Washington. No report of 
that speech remains, but the evidence of its ability survives in 
the effects which it produced on the legislature and the coun- 
try. He continued in the practice of the law, having declined 
successively the offices of Attorney General of the United 
States and Minister to France, until 1797, when with General 
Pinkney and Mr. Gerry, he was sent on a special mission to 
the French republic. The manner in which the dignity of the 
American character was maintained against the corruption of 
the Directory and its ministers is well known. The letters of 
the seventeenth of January and third of April, 1798, to Tal- 
leyrand, the Minister of Foreign Kelations, have always been 
attributed to Marshall, and they rank among the ablest and 
most effective of diplomatic communications. Mr. Marshall 



arrived in New- York on the seventeenth of June, 1798, and 
on the nineteenth entered Philadelphia. At the intelligence 
of his approach the whole city poured out toward Frankford 
to receive him, and escorted him to his lodgings with all the 
honors of a triumph. In after years, when he visited Phila- 
delphia, he often spoke of the feelings with which, as he came 
near the city on that occasion, with some doubts as to the re- 
ception which he might meet with in the existing state of par- 
ties, he beheld the multitude rushing forth to crowd about him 
with every demonstration of respect and approbation, as hav- 
ing been the most interesting and gratifying of his life. 

On his return to Virginia, at the special request of General 
Washington, he became a candidate for the House of Eepre- 
sentatives, and was elected in the spring of 1799. His great- 
est effort in Congress was his speech in opposition to the reso- 
lutions of Edward Livingston relative to Thomas Nash, alias 
Jonathan Bobbins. Fortunately we possess an accurate re- 
port of it, revised by himself. The case was, that Thomas 
Nash, having committed a murder on board the British frigate 
Hermione, navigating the high seas under a commission from 
the British king, had sought an asylum within the United 
States, and his delivery had been demanded by the British 
minister under the twenty-seventh article of the treaty of 
amity between the two nations. Mr. Marshall's argument 
first established that the crime was within' the jurisdiction of 
Great Britain, on the general principles of public law, and then 
demonstrated, that under the constitution the case was sub- 
ject to the disposal of the executive, and not the judiciary. 
He distinguished these departments from one another with an 
acuteness of discrimination and a force of logic which frustrated 



the attempt to carry the judiciary out of its orbit, and settled 
the political question, then and for ever. It is said that Mr. 
Gallatin, whose part it was to reply to Mr. Marshall, at the 
close of the speech turned to some of his friends and said, 
" You may answer that if you choose ; I cannot." The argu- 
ment deserves to rank among the most dignified displays of 
human intellect. At the close of the session, Mr. Marshall 
was appointed Secretary of War, and soon after Secretary of 
State. During his continuance in that department our rela- 
tions with England were in a very interesting condition, and 
his correspondence with Mr. King exhibits his abilities and 
spirit in the most dignified point of view. " His despatch of 
the twentieth of September, 1800," says Mr. Binney, " is a 
noble specimen of the first order of state papers, and shows the 
most finished adaptation of parts for the station of an Ameri- 
can Secretary of State." On the thirty-first of January, 1801, 
he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States, in which 
office he continued until his death. In 1804 he published the 
Biography of Washington, which for candor, accuracy, and 
comprehension, will for ever be the most authentic history of 
the He volution. He died in Philadelphia on the sixth of July, 

Mr. Marshall's career as Chief Justice extended through a 
period of more than thirty-four years, which is the longest ju- 
dicial tenure recorded in history. To one who cannot follow 
his great judgments, in which, at the same time, the depths 
of legal wisdom are disclosed and the limits of human reason 
measured, the language of just eulogy must wear an appear- 
ance of extravagance. In his own profession he stands for the 
reverence of the wise rather than for the enthusiasm of the 



many. The proportion of the figure was so perfect, that the 
sense of its vastness was lost. Above the difficulties of com- 
mon minds, he was in some degree above their sympathy. 
Saved from popularity by the very rarity of his qualities, he as- 
tonished the most where he was best understood. The questions 
upon which his judgment was detained, and the considerations 
by which his decision was at last determined, were such as or- 
dinary understandings, not merely could not resolve, but were 
often inadequate even to appreciate or apprehend. It was his 
manner to deal directly with the results of thought and learn- 
ing, and the length and labor of the processes by which these 
results were suggested and verified might elude the conscious- 
ness of those who had not themselves attempted to perform 
them. From the position in which he stood of evident superi- 
ority to his subject, it was obviously so easy for him to de- 
scribe its character aud define its relations, that we sometimes 
forgot to wonder by what faculties or what efforts he had at- 
tained to that eminence. We were so much accustomed to 
see his mind move only in the light, that there was a danger 
of our not observing that the illumination by which it was sur- 
rounded was the beam of its own presence, and not the natural 
atmosphere of the scene. 

The true character and measure of Marshall's greatness 
are missed by those who conceive of him as limited within the 
sphere of the justices of England, and who describe him merely 
as the first of lawyers. To have been " the most consummate 
judge that ever sat in judgment/' was the highest possibility 
of Eldon's merit, but was only a segment of Marshall's fame. 
It was in a distinct department, of more dignified functions, 
almost of an opposite kind, that he displayed those abilities 


that advance his name to the highest renown, and shed around 
it the glories of a statesman and legislator. The powers of 
the Supreme Court of the United States are such as were 
never before confided to a judicial tribunal by any people. As 
determining, without appeal, its own jurisdiction, and that of 
the legislature and executive, that court is not merely the 
highest estate in the country, but it settles and continually 
moulds the constitution of the government. Of the great work 
of constructing a nation, but a small part, practically, had 
been performed when the written document had been signed 
by the convention : a vicious theory of interpretation might 
defeat the grandeur and unity of the organization, and a want 
of comprehension and foresight might fatally perplex the har- 
mony of the combination. The administration of a system of 
polity is the larger part of its establishment, What the con- 
stitution was to be, depended on the principles on which the 
federal instrument was to be construed, and they were not to 
be found in the maxims and modes of reasoning by which the 
law determines upon social contracts between man and man, 
but were to be sought anew in the elements of political philo- 
sophy and the general suggestions of legislative wisdom. To 
these august duties Judge Marshall brought a greatness of con- 
ception that was commensurate with their difficulty ; he came 
to them in the spirit and with the strength of one who would 
minister to the development of a nation ; and it was the essen- 
tial sagacity of his guiding mind that saved us from illustrating 
the sarcasms of Mr. Burke about paper constitutions. He saw 
the futility of attempting to control society by a metaphysical 
theory ; he apprehended the just relation between opinion and 
life, between the forms of speculation and the force of things. 



Knowing that we are wise in respect to nature, only as we 
give back to it faithfully what we have learned from it obedi- 
ently, he sought to fix the wisdom of the real and to resolve it 
into principles. He made the nation explain its constitution, 
and compelled the actual to define the possible. Experience 
was the dialectic by which he deduced from substantial pre- 
mises a practical conclusion. The might of reason by which 
convenience and right were thus moulded into union, was 
amazing. But while he knew the folly of endeavoring to be 
wiser than time, his matchless resources of good sense contribut- 
ed to the orderly development of the inherent elements of the 
constitution, by a vigor and dexterity as eminent in their kind 
as they were rare in their combination. The vessel of state 
was launched by the patriotism of many : the chart of her 
course was designed chiefly by Hamilton : but when the voy- 
age was begun, the eye that observed, and the head that reck- 
oned, and the hand that compelled the ship to keep her course 
amid tempests without, and threats of mutiny within, were 
those of the great Chief Justice. Posterity will give him rev- 
erence as one of the founders of the nation ; and of that group 
of statesmen who may one day perhaps be regarded as above 
the nature, as they certainly were beyond the dimensions of 
men, no figure, save one alone, will rise upon the eye in gran- 
deur more towering than that of J ohn Marshall. 

The authority of the Supreme Court, however, is not con- 
fined to cases of constitutional law; it embraces the whole 
range of judicial action, as it is distributed in England, into 
legal, equitable, and maritime jurisdictions. The equity sys- 
tem of this court was too little developed to enable us to say 
what Marshall would have been as a chancellor. It is difficult 


to admit that he would have been inferior to Lord Eldon : it 
is irnposible to conceive that he could at all have resembled 
Lord Eldon. But undoubtedly the native region and proper 
interest of a mind so analytical and so sound, so piercing and 
so practical, was the common law, that vigorous system of 
manly reason and essential right, that splendid scheme of mo- 
rality expanded by logic and informed by prudence. Perhaps 
the highest range of English intelligence is illustrated in the 
law ; yet where, in the whole line of that august succession, 
will be found a character which fills the measure of judicial 
greatness so completely as Chief J ustice Marshall ? Where, 
in English history, is the judge, whose mind was at once so en- 
larged and so systematic, who so thoroughly had reduced pro- 
fessional science to general reason, in whose disciplined intel- 
lect technical learning had so completely passed into native 
sense ? Vast as the reach of the law is, it is not an exagger- 
ation to say that Marshall's understanding was greater, and 
embraced the forms of legal sagacity within it, as a part of its 
own spontaneous wisdom. He discriminated with instinctive 
accuracy between those technicalities which have sprung from 
the narrowness of inferior minds, and those which are set by 
the law for the defence of some vital element of justice or rea- 
son. The former he brushed away like cobwebs, while he 
yielded to the latter with a respect which sometimes seemed 
to those "whose eyes were" not "opened," a species of super- 
stition. In his judicial office the method of Marshall appeared 
to be, first to bow his understanding reverently to the law, and 
calmly and patiently to receive its instructions as those of an 
oracle of which he was the minister ; then to prove these dic- 
tates by the most searching processes of reason, and to deliver 



them to others, not as decrees to be obeyed, but as logical 
manifestations of moral truth. Undoubtedly he made much 
use of adjudged cases ; but he used them to give light and 
certainty to his own judgment, and not for the vindication or 
support of the law. He would have deemed it a reproach 
alike to his abilities and his station, if he should have deter- 
mined upon precedent what could have been demonstrated by 
reason, or had referred to authority what belonged to principle. 
With singular capacity, he united systematic reason with a per- 
ception of particular equity : too scrupulous a regard for the 
latter led Lord Eldon, in most instances, to adjudicate nothing 
but the case before him ; but Marshall remembered that while 
he owed to the suitors the decision of the case, he owed to so- 
ciety the establishment of the principle. His mind naturally 
tended, not to suggestion and speculation, but to the deter- 
mination of opinion and the closing of doubts. On the bench, 
he always recollected that he was not merely a lawyer, and 
much less a legal essayist ; he was conscious of .an official duty 
and an official authority; and considered that questions might 
be discussed elsewhere, but came to be settled by him. The 
dignity with which these duties were discharged was not the 
least admirable part of the display. It was wisdom on the 
seat of power, pronouncing the decrees of justice. 

Political and legal sense are so distinct from one another 
as almost to be irreconcilable in the same mind. The latter is 
a mere course of deduction from premises ; the other calls into 
exercise the highest order of perceptive faculties, and that 
quick felicity of intuition which flashes to its conclusions by a 
species of mental sympathy rather than by any conscious pro- 
cess of argumentation. The one requires that the susceptibi- 


lity of the judgment should be kept exquisitely alive to every 
suggestion of the practical, so as to catch and follow the in- 
sensible reasonings of life, rather than to reason itself : the 
other demands the exclusion of every thing not rigorously ex- 
act, and the concentration of the whole consciousness of the 
mind in kindling implicit truth into formal principles. The 
wonder, in Judge Marshall's case, was to see these two almost 
inconsistent faculties, in quality so matchless, and in develop- 
ment so magnificent, harmonized and united in his marvellous 
intelligence. We beheld him pass from one to the other de- 
partment without confusing their nature, and without perplex- 
ing his own understanding. When he approached a question 
of constitutional jurisprudence, we saw the lawyer expand into 
the legislator ; and in returning to a narrower sphere, pause 
from the creative glow of statesmanship, and descend from in- 
tercourse with the great conceptions and great feelings by 
which nations are guided and society is advanced, to submit 
his faculties with docility to the yoke of legal forms, and with 
impassible calmness to thread the tangled intricacies of forensic 

There was in this extraordinary man an unusual combina- 
tion of the capacity of apprehending truth, with the ability to 
demonstrate and make it palpable to others. They often exist 
together in unequal degrees. Lord Mansfield's power of lu- 
minous explication was so surpassing that one might almost 
say that he made others perceive what he did not understand 
himself; but the numerous instances in which his decisions 
have been directly overthrown by his successors, and the still 
greater number of cases in which his opinions have been silently 
departed from, compel a belief that his judgment was not of 


the truest kind. Lord Eldon's judicial sagacity was a species 
of inspiration ; but lie seemed to be unable not only to con- 
vince others, but even to certify himself of the correctness of 
his own greatest and wisest determinations. But Judge Mar- 
shall's sense appeared to be at once both instinctive and analy- 
tical : his logic extended as far as his perception : he had no 
propositions in his thoughts which he could not resolve into 
their axioms. Truth came to him as a revelation, and from 
him as a demonstration. His mind was more than the faculty 
of vision ; it was a body of light, which irradiated the subject 
to which it was directed, and rendered it as distinct to every 
other eye as it was to its own. 

The mental integrity of this illustrious man was not the 
least important element of his greatness. Those qualities of 
vanity, fondness for display, the love of effect, the solicitation 
of applause, sensibility to opinions, which are the immoralities 
of intellect, never attached to that stainless essence of pure 
reason. He seemed to men to be a passionless intelligence ; 
susceptible to no feeling but the constant love of right ; sub- 
ject to no affection but a polarity toward truth. 

As has already been stated, the great chief justice was 
married when twenty-eight years of age, to Miss Ambler, of 
York, in Virginia ; there have been few such unions in every 
respect more fortunate and delightful ; the wife died but a 
short time before the husband, who, not more than two days 
previous to his own decease, directed that his body should be 
laid with hers, and that the plain stone to indicate the place 
of their rest should have only this simple inscription : 

"John Marshall, son of Thomas and Mary Marshall, was born on the 24th 
of September, 1755, intermarried with Mary Willis Ambler on the 3d of Janu- 
ary, 1783, and departed this life the day of 18—." 



With no other alteration than the filling of the blanks, this 
is engraved on the modest white marble which is over their re- 
mains in the beautiful cemetery on Shoccoe Hill, of Kichmond. 

The chief justice always lived in a style of singular sim- 
plicity ; when Secretary of State at "Washington, he resided 
in a brick building hardly larger than most of the kitch- 
ens now in use, and his house in Kichmond, to which he soon 
after removed, was characteristically unostentatious. From 
Kichmond he frequently walked out three or four miles to his 
farm in the county of Henrico ; and once a year he made a 
protracted visit to his other farm, near his birth-place, in 

No man had a keener relish for social and convivial enjoy- 
ments, and numerous anecdotes are told in illustration of this 
trait in his character. Nearly all the period of his residence 
in Kichmond, he was a member of a club which met near the 
city once a fortnight to pitch quoits, and mingle in relaxing 
conversation ; there was no one more punctual in his attend- 
ance at its meetings, or who contributed more to their pleasant- 
ness ; and such was his skill in the manly game he practised, 
that he would hurl his iron ring, weighing two pounds, with 
rarely erring aim, fifty-five or sixty feet, and when he or his 
partner made any specially successful exhibition of skill, he 
would leap up and clap his hands with the light-hearted en- 
thusiasm of boyhood. 


THE house in which Fisher Ames was born was pulled 
down somewhere about 1818. It used to stand on the 
main street of Dedham, a little to the northeast, and over 
the way from where the court-house now stands. It was a 
roomy, two-story, peaked-roofed old building, with its end to 
the street ; the oldest part having an addition of more modern 
construction on the front, or what, with reference to the 
street, was the end. The rooms were low, the windows small, 
and the lower floor was sunken a little below the ground. A 
large buttonwood overshadowed it in front, and from behind 
an elm, the latter still standing. There was no fence between 
the house and the street, and the intervening space was cover- 
ed with grass of that thick and stubbed growth peculiar to 
such localities. Behind was a large barn, while on both sides, 
and back for fifty or sixty rods, to the Charles River, stretched 
a broad field of irregular surface. Just across the street was 
the " Front Lot/' a piece of unoccupied land, including that 
on which the court-house now stands, and extending east 
nearly as far as the post-office. On the corner of this lot, di- 
rectly in front of the house stood, subsequently, — that is, to the 
year 1776, when it was erected, — a stone pillar supporting a 


column, surmounted by a wooden head of Pitt, the same hav- 
ing been set up by the " Sons of Liberty," a brother of Fisher 
Ames among the number, on the repeal of the Stamp Act. 
This structure, after testifying to America's gratitude for a 
number of years, and furnishing to the corner on which it 
stood, the name of " Pitt's Head," was eventually overthrown. 
The stone pillar with its glowing inscription, after lying awhile 
by the roadside, and offering a seat to chatting children, and a 
place, in the spaces of the letters, for cracking nuts, was at 
length set up in its old place, on the erection of the court- 
house some twenty-five years since, where it still stands. But 
of the fate of the column and the head we have no account. 
This wooden head, intended by its enthusiastic raisers, with- 
out a doubt, to be " rere perennius," lay kicking about the 
street ; and perhaps found refuge at last from the vicissitudes 
of the weather and the wasting jack-knife of the schoolboy, in 
the wood-box or the garret of some hospitable patriot. 

The old house was long kept as an inn, both by Dr. Na- 
thaniel Ames, the father of Fisher, and, after his death, by 
his wife. Innkeeping in those days was not so engrossing an 
occupation as at present, and Dr. Ames, by no means mainly 
a Boniface, found time for the care of his farm, for the prac- 
tice of his profession, for the study of mathematics, astron- 
omy, and kindred subjects ; and for the application of the 
knowledge thus acquired, in the making of almanacs ; a busi- 
ness which he carried on for forty years. In their veracious 
pages, besides indicating the doings and intentions of the 
heavenly bodies, and predicting storms with all the accuracy of 
which the case was susceptible, Dr. Ames used to portray the 
exciting events of the time in verse, more patriotic and vivid, 



perhaps, than poetic. He was, in truth, a man of no small con- 
sideration in Dedham, of much natural ability, of wit and 

He showed these last qualities once on a time, when the 
colonial judges decided some law case against him. He 
thought they had disregarded the law, and their Keverences 
were soon seen, sketched on a sign-board in front of the tavern, 
in full bottomed wigs, tippling, with their backs to the volume 
labelled " The Province Law." The authorities at Boston 
taking umbrage at this, dispatched some officers to Dedham 
to remove the sign. But Dr. Ames was too quick for them ; 
and the baffled tipstaves on reaching the house found nothing 
hanging but a board, on which was inscribed, " A wicked and 
adulterous generation seeketh for a sign, but no sign shall be 
given them." 

Dr. Ames died in 1764, when his son Fisher, the youngest 
child, was six years old ; having besides him, a son of his own 
name and profession, who was afterwards a violent democrat 
and opponent of Fisher Ames, two other sons and a daughter. 
Of these, Fisher was the only one who left descendants. Mrs. 
Ames continued to keep the inn, and married again. She 
was a very shrewd and sensible woman, of a strong and singu- 
lar cast of mind. She took a hearty interest in politics, and 
hated the Jacobins devoutly. Innkeeping was a favorite oc- 
cupation with her, and she carried matters with a high hand. 
We have heard her compared to Meg Dods, the landlady in 
St. Konan's Well. She outlived her son Fisher some ten 
years or more. 

Fisher Ames was a delicate child, and the pet of his ano- 
ther, whose maiden name he bore. He had such an extrava- 


gant fondness for books, devouring all that fell within his 
reach, and showed, in other ways, to the fond perception of 
his parent, such unmistakable signs of genius, that she early 
determined to make a lawyer of him, and put him to the 
study of Latin at six. The little fellow worked bravely at his 
lessons for six years, reciting sometimes to the school-teacher, 
when that functionary happened to be more than usually 
learned, sometimes to old Mr. Haven the minister, with whom 
he early made friends, and to various other persons. In 1770, 
twelve years old, he was admitted to Harvard College. Here 
he spent four years with credit and success, acquiring greater 
distinction in the study of the languages and in oratory, than 
in the abstract sciences. He was conspicuous, even at this 
early age, as a speaker, being one of the leading members of 
a society for improvement in eloquence, then newly established. 
This society, under the style of " The Institute of 1770," is 
still flourishing at Cambiidge, and turns out annually as many 
orators, perhaps, as any similar body in our country. ; The 
writer of this remembers to have heard there, in his own college 
days, a great deal of sublime elocution. Fisher Ames's name 
occurs on the records a number of times, as a speaker, and a 
critic, and once as follows : " June, 1, 1773. — Voted, that 
Ames, Clarke, and Eliot, be fined 4 pence for tardiness." 
Young Ames passed through college with unblemished morals. 
"Happily," in the elegant phrase of his biographer, "he did 
not need the smart of guilt to make him virtuous, nor the re- 
gret of folly to make him wise." 

In the summer of 1774, he returned to his mother's house. 
Notwithstanding her predilection for law, he had some idea of 
studying medicine or divinity. But, the year of the Bos- 



ton Port Bill was no good time for deciding upon a course of 
life, or beginning it when determined on. Besides, Fisher 
Ames was but sixteen, and his mother was poor. For a short 
time, therefore, he engaged in teaching school ; and, after a 
few years spent in desultory but unceasing study and reading, 
he began law in the office of Wm. Tudor, of Boston. 

During this time the contest was going on in which his 
country's liberties were involved, and young Ames was a watch- 
ful and anxious observer of its progress. It was at his mother's 
house that the good men of Dedham used to meet, to see what 
they and the country were to do. Only a month or two after 
his return from college, a convention from all the towns of 
Suffolk county, of which Dedham was then a part, met here 
to deliberate. We can imagine the heart of our boy of sixteen 
burning within him, and his eye flashing as he heard the out- 
raged citizens of Boston tell their grievances, and as he longed 
to be a man, that he might take a part with those determined 
patriots in their resolution to try the issue with Great Britain, 
if need be, at the point of the sword. Dedham sent some 
brave soldiers to the service, and Fisher Ames, young as he 
was, went out in one or two short expeditions. 

In 1781 we find him entered upon the practice of law at 
Dedham, where he soon became distinguished as an advocate. 
In those days the manners of the bench were very rough. 
The road to eminence in law seemed often to He between rows 
of semi-barbarous judges, who hurled at aspiring barristers 
every missile of abuse. There is always much, it is true, in the 
deportment of young lawyers to vex the temper of a judge, and 
perhaps in those days of callow independence there may have 
been more than common. There appears to be something 


about that great science to which, in the language of Hooker, 
" all things in heaven and earth do homage, the least as feel- 
ing her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her 
bounty," that breathes unusual dignity into its servants, espe- 
cially its young ones. In its various duties, the giving of 
counsel, the questioning of witnesses, and the frequent display 
of capacity before courts and juries, the seeds of vanity find 
propitious soil and start into rank growth. From this or what- 
ever cause, the judges of old times were crusty and abusive; 
and old Judge Paine, besides being all this, was moreover deaf, 
and used to berate counsel roundly at times for what was no 
fault of theirs. "I tell you what, " said Fisher Ames, as he 
came out of court one day, " a man, when he enters that court- 
room, ought to go armed with a speaking trumpet in one hand 
and a club in the other." At another time, Ames expressed 
a rather derogatory opinion of the intelligence of the court." 
He was arguing a case before a number of county justices, and 
having finished, turned to leave the room. " Ain't you going 
to say any thing more, Mr. Ames ? " anxiously whispered his 
client. "No," rejoined Ames; "you might as well argue 
a case to a row of skim-milk cheeses ! " Perhaps his dislike 
to these dignitaries may have been an inheritance. May not 
the old Doctor, in his indignation about the Province Law 
matter, like another Hamilcar, have made his son, a youthful 
Hannibal, swear eternal hatred to his foes ? 

Mr. Ames was now a rapidly rising man. Various essays 
on political subjects from his pen appeared in the newspapers, 
and contributed to draw public attention to him. When 
quite young, he was sent to a convention held at Concord, to 
consider the depreciated state of the currency, where he made 



an eloquent speech. In 1788, he was a member of the con- 
vention for ratifying the federal constitution. Here he added 
much to Ins fame by a number of excellent speeches. One on 
the biennial election of representatives was considered the 
best, and is the only one given in his works. It is lucid, 
statesmanlike, and eloquent. The occasion of it was an in- 
quiry by Samuel Adams, why representatives were not made 
elective annually. To this Ames alludes in the closing para- 
graph : " As it has been demanded why annual elections were 
not preferred to biennial, permit me to retort the question, 
and to inquire, in my turn, what reason can be given why, if 
annual elections are good, biennial elections are not better ? " 
Adams professed himself entirely satisfied. This same year 
Ames represented Dedham in the legislature. 

In 1789, Suffolk county sent him as her first representa- 
tive to Congress, in opposition to Samuel Adams. He was in 
Congress eight years, during the whole of Washington's admin- 
istration, and was one of the most prominent leaders of the 
federal party, giving to the President uniform and important 
support. In this period, he acquired a reputation for candor, 
integrity, ability, and eloquence, second to that of no man in 
Congress. At times, particularly towards the end of his term, 
ill-health compelled his absence ; yet he examined with care 
every important question that presented itself, and spoke upon 
almost every one. But of Ins numerous efforts in Congress, 
only two are printed among his works, one on certain resolutions 
of Madison's for imposing additional duties on foreign goods, 
delivered in 1794, and the speech on Jay's treaty, two years 
later, his most brilliant effort, " an era," says his biographer, 


"in his political life." This speech was written out from 
memory by Judge Smith and Samuel Dexter, receiving a revi- 
sion from Ames. It is thus alluded to by Hildreth : " He 
(Ames) had been detained from the House during the early 
part of the session, by an access of that disorder which made 
all the latter part of his life one long disease. Kising from his 
seat, pale, feeble, hardly able to stand or to speak, but warm- 
ing with the subject, he delivered a speech which, for compre- 
hensive knowledge of human nature and of the springs of po- 
litical action, for caustic ridicule, keen argument, and pathetic 
eloquence, even in the imperfect shape in which we possess it, 
has very seldom been equalled on that or any other floor." 
The question was to have been taken that same day, but one 
of the opposition moved that it be postponed till the next, that 
they should not act under the influence of an excitement of 
which their calm judgment might not approve. 

After reducing the question to one of breaking the public 
faith, the speaker adds : " This, sir, is a cause that would 
be dishonored and betrayed, if I contented myself with appeal- 
ing only to the understanding. It is too cold, and its pro- 
cesses are too slow for the occasion. I desire to thank God 
that, since he has given me an intellect so fallible, he has im- 
pressed upon me an instinct that is sure. On a question of 
shame and dishonor, reasoning is sometimes useless, and worse. 
I feel the decision in my pulse ; if it throws no light upon the 
brain, it kindles a fire at the heart." It is the spirit that 
breathes in this splendid burSt that stirred the minds of the 
hearers, wearied and disgusted with a discussion of nearly tw~ 
months, so that, in the blunt language of John Adams — 



" there wasn't a dry eye in the House, except some of the jack- 
asses that occasioned the 1 necessity of the oratory." 

Ames's speeches show great clearness of mind and powei 
of reasoning, and have about them an air of candor that in- 
duces conviction. He brought to every subject on which he 
was to speak, that thorough understanding of it, in which, if 
we may believe Socrates, lies the secret of all eloquence. It 
appears to have been customary with him to wait till a ques- 
tion had undergone some discussion, that he might the better 
appreciate the arguments on both sides. He would then rise, 
and disperse, as with the wand of Prospero, the mists of pre- 
judice and sophistry that had gathered over the question in 
the course of debate, while he placed the subject before the 
House with convincing eloquence and precision. His well-stored 
mind poured forth illustrations at every step, and his imagina- 
tion illuminated each point on which he touched. Now and then 
it would light up into a pure and steady blaze as he dwelt 
on some topic that stirred his deepest emotions, and transfig- 
ured it in apt and nervous language. In this union of ima- 
gination and feeling, making every period glow with life, with 
logical power, Ames resembled Chatham. 

He was not in the habit of trusting to notes, but used to 
think out a sketch of what he was to say, and trust for the 
rest to the inspiration of the occasion. At first his manner 
was slow and hesitating, like one in reflection ; but as he went 
on, his thoughts and his language flowed fast, and his face 
beamed with expression. We have heard his manner charac- 
terized by one who had frequent opportunities of hearing him, 
in the words of Antenor's description of Ulysses : 


"But when Ulyssus rose, in thought profound, 
His modest eyes he fixed upon the ground, 
As one unskilled, or drunk, he seemed to stand, 
Nor raised his head nor stretched his sceptred hand; 
But when he speaks, what elocution flows ! 
Soft as the fleeces of descending snows, 
The copious accents fall, with easy art ; 
Melting they fall and sink into the heart ! " 

His voice is described as rich and melodious. His personal 
appearance is thus given by Win Sullivan : "He was above 
middle stature, and well-formed. His features were not 
strongly marked. His forehead was neither high nor expan- 
sive. His eyes blue, and of middling size ; his mouth hand- 
some ; his hair was black, and short on the forehead, and in 
his latter years unpowdered. He was very erect, and when 
speaking he raised his head ; or rather his chin was the most 
projected part of his face." Before a jury he was very effec- 
tive. There was nothing bitter or sarcastic in his manner ; but 
mild, cool, and candid, it made a jury, as we heard it express- 
ed, " want to give him the case, if they could/' He is con- 
trasted with his friend Samuel Dexter, as preferring to illus- 
trate by a picture, while Dexter would explain by a diagram. 

Mr. Ames was the author of the " Address of the House 
of Kepresentatives to Washington," on his signifying his in- 
tention to withdraw from office. His own health had been, 
and was still so feeble, that he could not stand for re-election. 
Accordingly, he retired to Dedham in March, 1797, intending 
to devote himself, as far as possible, to the practice of his pro- 
fession and the enjoyment of domestic happiness. 

In July 1792, Mr. Ames had married Miss Worthington, 
of Springfield. This marriage was an exceedingly happy one. 
Mrs. Ames was much beloved and respected by her neighbors, 



and, in her sphere, was considered as remarkable as her hus- 
band. She was a woman of gentle and retiring disposition, 
devoted to her family, kind, motherly and sensible. Mr. Ames 
seems to have found in her a companion who called forth and 
appreciated all those amiable qualities which were a part of 
his character. She took a good deal of interest in public af- 
fairs, and was a woman of cultivated mind. She survived her 
husband, and died some sixteen years since, at the age of 
seventy-four. They had seven children, six sons and a daugh- 
ter. The daughter died young and unmarried, of consump- 
tion. Three of the sons are now living, one in Dedham, one 
in Cambridge, and another somewhere at the West. All the 
children however survived their father. 

Previous to his marriage Mr. Ames had lived with his mo- 
ther. After that event he moved to Boston and took a house 
on Beacon Street, next to Governor Bowdoin's. He appears 
to have lived here about two years, when he returned to Ded- 
ham, and began the building of a new house. This house 
was finished and occupied by the winter of 1795 ; during the 
interval Mr. Ames lived in a house opposite the old mansion 
now occupied by the Dedham Gazette. This new house of 
Ames's is still standing in Dedham, externally much the same 
as of old ; a large square-built, two-story house, flat-roofed, 
simple and substantial. Internally, however, together witli 
the ground about it, it has undergone many alterations. For- 
merly it had not the piazza now in front of it, and the various 
chimneys were then represented by one fat, old-fashioned, solid 
structure in the middle. It passed out of the hands of the 
family about 1835, and is at present owned by Mr. John 


Mr. Ames seems to have inherited most of the old home- 
stead, to the extent of twenty-five acres, on which he built his 
house, facing the south, a little to the east, and back of his 
mother's. He employed himself a good deal henceforth in the 
cultivation of his farm. The " Front Lot " was surrounded 
with a rail fence and a row of Lombardy poplars, and was used 
at different times as a mowing lot, a cornfield, and a pasture 
for the cows. On the east side of the house, extending in 
length from the street to the river, and in width from directly 
under the windows, far enough to include a street and a row of 
small houses, since constructed, was a pasture and orchard in- 
cluding seven or eight acres, and stocked with the best 
fruit. Directly back of the house was the garden, a long and 
rather barren strip of land, of peculiar surface. Two straight 
walks went from the house the whole length of it. At the 
farther end of it was a low oval space, with a walk running 
around it, and a pond in the middle. All this part of the 
garden was low, and surrounded at the sides and end with a 
bank, in the form of an amphitheatre. Three or four terra- 
ces lay between it and the higher ground. These and the 
oval space with its walk, still remain, but the fence between 
the garden and the orchard has been removed, and the two 
straight walks somewhat changed, to suit the modern appetite 
for grace. The place is still full of the fruit-trees that Fisher 
Ames planted, some crossgrained pear-trees, and venerable cher- 
ries being the chief. The boys used to look over in this orchard 
and garden, at the big pears, weighing down the trees and 
covering the ground, as if it were the very garden of the 
Hesperides, and the dragon were asleep. Once in a while the 
gates would be thrown open to these hungry longers, and they 



helped themselves ; when winter came too the pond afforded 
them a capital skating place. A large shed ran out from the 
back of the house, on the west end, used, among other purpo- 
ses, as a granary. To the west and back of this, was the barn 
of the old house, and a large new one built by Mr. Ames, and 
behind the latter, the ice-house, in those days quite a novelty. 
Back of this was an open field. Od the west side of the house, 
a flight of steps led from one of the lower windows down the 
bank, with an old pear-tree growing through it. 

The house stood about two rods from the street ; a semi- 
elliptical walk led up to the door, and two horse-chestnuts 
grew in the yard. There were but few trees near the house, 
for Mr. Ames liked the light and the fresh air. He planted a 
great many shade trees however on the street, and some of the 
fine old elms about the common were set out with his own 
hands. The front door opened into a large room, which took 
up the whole southwestern end, used as a hall, and on occa- 
sion of those large dinner parties so common among men of 
Mr. Ames's class, in those days, as a dining-room. At such 
times this was thrown into one with the adjoining front room, 
a large apartment, with a big fireplace, commonly used as a 
parlor. Back of this was the library overlooking the garden. 
The southeastern end was Mr. Ames's favorite one. His cham- 
ber, that in which he died, was here, on the second story. 
Below stairs, was a cellar kitchen, and a dairy ; this last quite 
a magnificent matter, with marble flagging, and ice bestowed 
around in summer, for coolness. 

From the bank at the end of the garden, Mr. Ames's land 
covered with fruit-trees, sloped gracefully to the water. 
Charles Kiver is here only twenty or thirty feet wide, and winds 


with a tranquil current through a narrow meadow, not as 
broad, but brighter and clearer than where at Cambridge it 
calls forth the admiring apostrophe of the poet. It is only a 
short way below this where Mother Brook issues from the 
Charles, flowing towards the east, and joining it with the Ne- 
ponset, and making an island of all the intervening region, 
which embraces Boston, Koxbury, and Dorchester. This sin- 
gular stream, though its banks are wooded with venerable 
trees, and it is in all respects like one of nature's own, is nev- 
ertheless an artificial course of water. And what is very re- 
markable, it was constructed by the Puritan settlers, only 
three years after their arrival in 1639, when there could not 
have been a hundred men in the place. They were in want 
of a flow of water for mill purposes, and accordingly dug a 
canal a mile in length, from the Charles eastwardly. Here the 
land descended, and the water, left to its own course, wound 
in graceful curves to the Neponset. There are still a number 
of mills on this stream. This achievement of Young America, 
considering his extreme youth at the time, amounting in fact 
to infancy, was not unworthy of his subsequent exploits. 

After returning from Congress, Mr. Ames passed a life of 
almost unbroken retirement. In 1798 he was appointed com- 
missioner to the Cherokees, an office he was obliged to refuse. 
In 1800 he was a member of the Governor's Council, and in 
the same year delivered a eulogy on Washington, before the 
Legislature. He was chosen in 1805, President of Harvard 
College, but ill health, and a disinclination to change his 
habits of life, led him to decline the honor. 

He had also resumed the practice of his profession with 
ardor, but the state of his health compelled him gradually to 



drop it ; and towards the close of his life, he was glad to throw 
it aside altogether. Mr. Ames was not much of a traveller, 
though getting back and forth between Dedham and Philadel- 
phia, which he used to do in his own conveyance, was no small 
matter in those days. He visited among his acquaintances in 
the neighborhood, at Christopher Gore's in Waltham, at 
George Cabot's in Brookline, and at Salem, where Timothy 
Pickering and others of his friends resided. He was also in 
the habit of driving to Boston in his gig two or three times a 
week, when his health permitted, and passing the day. But 
he took few long journeys. We hear of him at Newport in 
1*795, in Virginia visiting the mineral springs for his health, 
in the following year, and in Connecticut in 1800 ; and he 
speaks in one of his letters of "jingling his bells as far as 
Springfield " as a matter of common occurrence. His wife's 
relations lived there, among others the husband of her sister, 
Mr. Thomas Dwight, at whose house Mr. Ames was a fre- 
quent guest. 

Ames, like so many of the best statesmen of that time, 
and of all time, appears to have always had a relish for 
farming. In a letter written at Philadelphia in 1796, while 
groaning over his ill health, which makes him " the survivor 
of himself, or rather the troubled ghost of a politician com- 
pelled to haunt the field of battle where he fell," he says, " I 
almost wish Adams was here, and I at home sorting squash 
and pumpkin seeds for planting." The latter part of the 
wish was soon to be realized, but not till this survivor of him- 
self had outdone all the efforts of his former life, and risen 
like a Phoenix in his splendid speech on the Treaty. He fre- 
quently wrote essays on agricultural subjects, and into many 


of his political articles similes and illustrations found their 
way, smelling of the farm. He had an especial fondness for 
raising fruit trees, and for breeding calves and pigs. All the 
best kinds of fruit were found in his orchard, experiments 
were tried on new kinds of grass, and improvements under- 
taken in the cultivation of crops. A piggery was attached to 
the barn, conducted on scientific principles, and furnished 
with the best stock. New breeds of cattle were introduced, 
and cows were kept with a view both to the sale of milk, and 
to the sale of their young. The produce of the farm used to 
be sent to Boston in a market wagon. For the carrying on of 
this establishment, Mr. Ames kept some half a dozen men. 
He himself was able to do but little active service. His dis- 
ease was called by the physicians marasmus, a wasting away 
of the vital powers, a sort of consumption, not merely of the 
lungs, but of the stomach and every thing else. This, while it 
produced fits of languor and depression, and had something to 
do probably with his excessive anxiety on political subjects, 
never seemed to take from the cheerfulness of his manners. 
He was obliged to practise a rigid system of temperance, and to 
take a good deal of exercise, in horseback riding and other ways. 
Besides the society of his family, a constant source of happi- 
ness, he used to solace himself with the company of his friends, 
with writing letters, and with reading his favorite authors. 
History and poetry he was especially fond of. Shakspeare, 
Milton, and Pope's Homer he read throughout his life, and 
during his last year, re-read Virgil, Tacitus and Livy, in the 
original, with much delight. 

His friends were frequently invited out to partake of his 
"farmer's fare," and rare occasions those must have been, 



when such men as Theophilus Parsons, and Pickering, and 
Gore, and Samuel Dexter, and George Cabot were met to- 
gether, with now and then one from a greater distance. Ham- 
ilton or Gouverneur Morris, or Sedgwick, or Judge Smith ; while 
at the head of the table sat Fisher Ames himself, delight- 
ing every one by his humor, and his unrivalled powers of 
conversation. In conversation, he surpassed all the men of 
his time ; even Morris, who was celebrated as a talker, used 
to be struck quite dumb at his side. His quick fancy and ex- 
uberant humor, his brilliant power of expression, his acquaint- 
ance with literature and affairs, and his genial and sunny dis- 
position, used to show themselves on such occasions to 
perfection. His conversation, like his letters, was mainly 
upon political topics, though now and then, agriculture or 
literature, or the common news of the day was introduced. 
When dining once with some Southern gentlemen in Boston, 
General Pinckney among the number, after an animated con- 
versation at the table, just as Ames was leaving the room, 
somebody asked him a question. Ames walked on until he 
reached the door, when, turning round and resting his elbow 
on the sideboard, he replied in a strain of such eloquence and 
beauty that the company confessed they had no idea of his 
powers before. Judge Smith, his room-mate in Philadelphia, 
stated, that when he was so sick as to be confined to his bed, 
he would sometimes get up and converse with friends who 
came to see him, by the hour, and then go back to his bed 
completely exhausted. His friends in Boston used to seize 
upon him when he drove in town, and " tire him down," as 
he expressed it, so that when he got back to Dedham, he 
wanted to roll like a tired horse. 


Ames wrote a good many newspaper essays. This was a 
habit which he always kept up, particularly after his retire- 
ment. About 1800, on the election of Jefferson, he was very 
active in starting a Federal paper in Boston, the Palladium, 
and wrote for it constantly. He had great fears for his coun- 
try from the predominance of French influence, and deemed it 
the duty of a patriot to enlighten his countrymen on the char- 
acter and tendency of political measures. His biographer in- 
forms us that these essays were the first drafts, and they appear 
as such. The language is appropriate and often very felici- 
tous, but they are diffuse and not always systematic. There 
is considerable argument in them, but more of explanation, 
appeal and ornament. He wrote to set facts before vthe peo- 
ple, and to urge them to vigilance and activity ; and his essays 
are in fact so many written addresses. They cost him no 
labor in their composition, being on subjects that he was con- 
stantly revolving in his mind. They used to be written when- 
ever he found a spare moment and a scrap of paper, while 
stopping at a tavern, at the printing office in Boston, or while 
waiting for his horse ; and are apparently expressed just as 
they would have been if he were speaking impromptu. We 
have heard him characterized by one of his old friends as es- 
sentially a poet ; but it would be more correct to say, that he 
was altogether an orator. He had indeed the characteristics 
of an orator in a rare degree, and these show themselves in 
every thing he does. While his mind was clear and his pow- 
ers of reasoning were exceedingly good, imagination, the in- 
stinctive perception of analogies, and feeling predominated. 
His writings do not justify his fame ; yet viewed as what they 
really are, the unlabored transcripts of his thoughts, they are 



remarkable. The flow of language, the wit, the wealth and 
aptness of illustration, the clearness of thought, show an in- 
formed and superior mind. They have here and there pro- 
found observations, that show an acquaintance with the prin- 
ciples of government and with the human heart, and are full 
of testimonials to the purity of the author's patriotism, and 
the goodness of his heart. 

Besides the essays that are published among his works, he 
wrote many others perhaps equally good, as well as numerous 
short, keen paragraphs, adapted to the time, but not suitable 
for republication. He also wrote verses occasionally, among 
others " an Ode by Jefferson " to the ship that was to bring 
Tom Paine from France, in imitation of Horace's to the vessel 
that was to bear Virgil from Athens. 

He wrote a great many letters, and it is in these that we 
are presented with the finest view of his character. They are 
full of sensible remarks on contemporary news and events, and 
sparkle with wit of that slipshod and easy sort, most delight- 
ful in letters, while in grace of style they surpass most of the 
correspondence of that period. The public has already been 
informed that the correspondence of Fisher Ames, together 
with other writings, and some notice of his life, is in course of 
publication by one of his sons, Mr. Seth Ames of Cambridge. 
But few of his letters were published in his works, as issued 
in 1809 ; a few more appeared in Judge Smith's life, and some 
twenty in Gibbs's " Administration of Washington and 
Adams," but these bear but a very small proportion to his 
whole correspondence. Within a short time as many as one 
hundred and fifty letters have been found in Springfield, writ- 
ten to Mr. Dwight, of various dates from 1790 to 1807. A 


large number are said to have disappeared, that were in the 
hands of George Cabot, and some were burned among the 
papers of President Kirkland. For a delightful specimen of 
Mr. Ames' familiar letters, the reader is referred to page 89 of 
that capital biography, the " Life of Judge Smith." 

Mr. Ames was a man of great urbanity among his neigh- 
bors. It was his custom to converse a good deal with ignorant 
persons and those remote from civil affairs. He was desirous 
to see how such persons looked at political questions, and often 
found means in this way of correcting his own views. He 
was a great favorite among the servants, and used to sit down 
in the kitchen sometimes and talk with them. 

He attended the Congregational church at Dedham, and 
took a good deal of interest in its affairs. On one occasion he 
invited out a number of friends to attend an installation. But 
about 1797, on the minister's insisting upon certain high Cal- 
vinistic doctrines, Mr. Ames left, and always went, after that, 
to the Episcopal church. A certain good old orthodox lady 
remarked to him one day, after he left their church, that she 
supposed, if they had a nice new meeting-house, he would come 
back. "No, madam," rejoined Ames, "if you had a church 
of silver, and were to line it with gold, and give me the best 
seat in it, I should go to the Episcopal." Though a man of 
strong religious feelings, he was nothing of a sectarian, and 
did not fully agree with the Episcopal views. He was a friend 
of Dr. Channing, who visited him in his last illness, and he 
ought probably to be reckoned in the same class of Christians 
with that eminent clergyman. He was very fond of the Psalms, 
and used to repeat the beautiful hymn of Watts, " Up to the 
hills I lift mine eyes." The Christmas of 1807, the year be- 



fore his death, he had his house decked with green, a favorite 
custom with him. 

He died at the age of fifty, on the fourth of July 1808, at 
five o'clock in the morning, leaving to his family a comfortahle 
property. The news of his death was carried at once to Bos- 
ton, and Andrew Ritchie, the city orator for that day, alluded 
to it in this extempore burst : " But, alas ! the immortal 
Ames, who, like Ithuriel, was commissioned to discover the in- 
sidious foe, has, like Ithuriel, accomplished his embassy, and 
on this morning of our independence has ascended to Heaven. 
Spirit of Demosthenes, couldst thou have been a silent and 
invisible auditor, how wouldst thou have been delighted to 
hear from his hps, those strains of eloquence which once from 
thine, enchanted the assemblies of Greece ! " Ames' friends 
in Boston requested his body for the celebration of funeral 
rites. It was attended by a large procession from the house 
of Christopher Gore to King's Chapel, where an oration was 
pronounced by Samuel Dexter. It was afterwards deposited 
in the family tomb at Dedham, whence it was removed a few 
years since, and buried by the side of his wife and children. 
A plain white monument marks the spot, in the old Dedham 
grave-yard, behind the Episcopal church, with the simple in- 
scription "Fisher Ames." 

1 1] n xxint i % ir a m s 


JOHN QUINCY ADAMS was fortunate in the home of his 
birth and childhood. It was a New England farm, descended 
from ancestors who were never so poor as to be dependent upon 
others, nor so rich as to be exempted from dependence upon 
themselves. It was situated in the town of Quincy, then the 
first parish of the town of Brain tree, and the oldest permanent 
settlement of Massachusetts proper.* The first parish became 
a town by its present name, twenty-five years after the birth 

* It is supposed that the State derives its name from a hill in the north part 
of the town, situated near the peninsula called Squantum, likewise a part of 



of Mr. Adams, viz. in 1792. It was named in honor of John 
Quincy, Mr. Adams's maternal great-grandfather, an eminent 
man. His death, and the transmission of his name to his 
great-grandson, are thus commemorated by the latter : 

" He was dying when I was baptized, and his daughter, 
my grandmother, present at my birth, requested that I should 
receive his name. The fact, recorded by my father at the time, 
has connected with that portion of my name a charm of min- 
gled sensibility and devotion. It was filial tenderness that 
gave the name. It was the name of one passing from earth 
to immortality. It has been to me a perpetual admonition to 
do nothing unworthy of it." 

The farm-house stands at the foot of an eminence called 
Penn's Hill, about a mile south of Quincy village. It is an 
old-fashioned dwelling, having a two-story front, and sloping far 
away to a single one in the rear. This style is peculiar to the 
early descendants of the Puritan fathers of America. Speci- 
mens are becoming rarer every year ; and being invariably 
built of wood, must soon pass away, but not without " the 
tribute of a sigh" from those, who associate with them memo- 
ries of the wide old fireplaces, huge glowing backlogs, and hos- 
pitable cheer. 

With this modest material environment of the child, was 

the town. Squantum was a favorite residence of the Indians ; and the Sachem, 
who ruled over the district "extending round the harbors of Boston and 
Charlestown, through Maiden, Chelsea, Nantasket, Hingham, Weymouth and 
Dorchester," had his seat on the neighboring hill, which was shaped like an ar- 
row-head. Arrow-head in the Indian language was mos or mous, and hill toe- 
tnset. Thus the great Sachem's home was called Mosivctuset or Arrow-head 
Hill, his subjects the Moswetusets, and lastty the Province Massachusetts, but 
frequently in the primitive days "the Massachusetts." 



coupled an intellectual and moral, which was golden. His 
father, the illustrious John Adams, was bred, and in his youth 
labored, on the farm. At the birth of his son, he was still a 
young man, being just turned of thirty, but ripe both in gen- 
eral and professional knowledge, and already recognized as one 
of the ablest counsellors and most powerful pleaders at the bar 
of the province. 

The mother of John Quincy Adams was worthy to be the 
companion and counsellor of the statesman just described. 
By reason of slender health she never attended a school. As 
to the general education allowed to girls at that day, she tells 
us that it was limited " in the best families to writing, arith- 
metic, and, in rare instances, music and dancing and that 
" it was fashionable to ridicule female learning." From her 
father, a clergyman, from her mother, a daughter of John 
Quincy, and above all from her grandmother, his wife, she de- 
rived liberal lessons and salutary examples. Thus her educa- 
tion was entirely domestic and social. Perhaps it was the 
better for the absence of that absorbing passion of the schools, 
which for the most part rests as well satisfied with negative 
elevation by the failure of another, as with positive elevation 
by the improvement of one's self. The excellent and pleas- 
ant volume of her letters, which has gone through several 
editions, indicates much historical, scriptural, and especially 
poetical and ethical culture. In propriety, ease, vivacity and 
grace, they compare not unfavorably with the best epistolary 
collections ; and in constant good sense, and occasional depth 
and eloquence, no letter-writer can be named as her superior. 
To her only daughter, mother of the late Mrs. De Wint, she 
wrote concerning the influence of her grandmother as follows : 


" I have not forgotten the excellent lessons which I received 
from my grandmother, at a very early period of life. I 
frequently think they made a more durable impression upon 
my mind than those which I received from my own parents. 
Whether it was owing to a happy method of mixing instruc- 
tion and amusement together, or from an inflexible adherence 
to certain principles, which I could not but see and approve 
when a child, I know not ; but maturer years have made them 
oracles of wisdom to me. Her lively, cheerful disposition ani- 
mated all around her, whilst she edified all by her unaffected 
piety. I cherish her memory with a holy veneration, whose 
maxims I have treasured, whose virtues five in my remem- 
brance — happy if I could say they have been transplanted 
into my life." 

The concluding aspiration was more than realized, because 
Mrs. Adams lived more than the fortunate subject of her eu- 
logy, and more than any American woman of her time. She 
was cheerful, pious, compassionate, discriminating, just and 
courageous up to the demand of the times. She was a calm 
adviser, a zealous assistant, and a never failing consolation of 
her partner, in all his labors and anxieties, public and private, 
That the laborers might be spared for the army, she was wil- 
ling to work in the field. Diligent, frugal, industrious and 
indefatigable in the arrangement and details of the household 
and the farm, the entire management of which devolved upon 
her for a series of years, she preserved for him amidst general 
depreciation and loss of property, an independence, upon which 
he could always count and at last retire. At the same time 
she responded to the numerous calls of humanity, irrespective 
of opinions and parties. If there was a patriot of the Kevo- 



lution who merited the title of Washington of women, she 
was the one. 

It is gratifying to know that this rare combination of vir- 
tue and endowments met with a just appreciation from her 
great husband. In his autobiography, written at a late period 
of life, he records this touching testimony, that " his connec- 
tion with her had been the source of all his felicity," and his 
unavoidable separations from her, "of all the griefs of his 
heart, and all that he esteemed real afflictions in his life." 
Throughout the two volumes of letters to her, embracing a 
period of twenty-seven years, the lover is more conspicuous 
than the statesman ; and she on her part regarded him with 
an affection unchangeable and ever fresh during more than half 
a century of married life. On one of the anniversaries of her 
wedding she wrote from Braintree to him in Europe : 

" Look at this date and tell me what are the thoughts 
which arise in your mind. Do you not recollect that eighteen 
years have run their circuit, since we pledged our mutual 
faith, and the hymeneal torch was lighted at the altar of 
love ? Yet, yet it burns with unabating fervor. Old ocean 
cannot quench it ; old Time cannot smother it in this bosom. 
It cheers me in the lonely hour." 

The homely place at Penn's Hill was thrice ennobled, twice 
as the birth-place of two noble men — noble before they were 
Presidents ; and thirdly as the successful rival of the palaces 
inhabited by its proprietors at the most splendid courts of Eu- 
rope, which never for a moment supplanted it in their affec- 
tions. Mrs. Adams wrote often from Paris and London in this 
strain : " My humble cottage at the foot of the hill has more 
charms for me than the drawing-room of St. James;" and 


John Adams still oftener thus: "I had rather build wall on 
Penn's Hill than be the first prince of Europe, or the first 
general or first senator of America." 

Such were the hearts that unfolded the childhood of John 
Quincy Adams. 

Of all the things which grace or deform the early home, 
the principles, aims and efforts of the parents in conducting the 
education of the child are the most important to both. The 
mutual letters of the parents, in the present case, contain such 
wise and patriotic precepts, such sagacious methods, such ear- 
nest and tender persuasions to the acquisition of all virtue, 
knowledge, aits and accomplishments, that can purify and 
exalt the human character, that they would form a valuable 
manual for the training of true men and purer patriots. 

Although the spot which has been mentioned was John 
Quincy Adams's principal home until he was nearly eleven, yet 
he resided at two different intervals, within that time, four or 
five years in Boston ; his father's professional business at one 
time, and his failing health at another, rendering the alterna- 
tion necessary. The first Boston residence was the White 
House, so called, in Brattle-street. In front of this a British 
regiment was exercised every morning by Major Small, during 
the fall and winter of 1768, to the no little annoyance of the 
tenant. But says he, " in the evening, I was soothed by the 
sweet songs, violins and flutes of the serenading Sons of Lib- 
erty." The family returned to Braintree in the spring of 1771. 
In November, 1772, they again removed to Boston, and occu- 
pied a house which John Adams had purchased in Queen (now 
Court) street, in which he also kept his office. From this issued 
state papers and appeals, which did not a little to fix the 



destiny of the country. The ground of that house has descend- 
ed to Charles Francis Adams, his grandson. In 1774 Penn's 
Hill became the permanent home of the family, although John 
Adams continued his orifice in Boston, attended by students at 
law, until it was broken up by the event of April 19th, 1775. 

Soon after the final return to Quincy, we begin to have 
a personal acquaintance with the boy, now seven years old. 
Mrs. Adams writes to her husband, then attending the Con- 
gress in Philadelphia : 

" I have taken a very great fondness for reading Kollin's 
Ancient History since you left me. I am determined to go 
through with it, if possible, in these my days of solitude. I 
find great pleasure and entertainment from it, and I have per- 
suaded J ohnny to read me a page or two every day, and hope he 
will, from a desire to oblige me, entertain a fondness for it." 

In the same year the first mention is made of his regular 
attendance upon a teacher. The person selected in that ca- 
pacity was a young man named Thaxter, a student at law, 
transferred from the office in Boston, to the family in Quincy. 
The boy seems to have been very much attached to him. Mrs. 
Adams assigned the following reasons for preferring this ar- 
rangement to the public town school. 

" I am certain that if he does not get so much good, he 
gets less harm ; and I have always thought it of very great im- 
portance that children should be unaccustomed to such exam- 
ples as would tend to corrupt the purity of their words and 
actions, that they may chill with horror at the sound of an 
oath, and blush with indignation at an obscene expression." 

This furnishes a pleasing coincidence with a precept of 
ancient prudence : — 


Let nothing foul in speech or act intrude, 
"Where reverend childhood i9. 

There is no disapprobation of public schools to be inferred 
from this. These are indispensable for the general good ; but 
if from this narrative a hint should be taken for making them 
more and more pure, and worthy of their saving mission, such 
an incident will be welcome. 

Of the next memorable year we have a reminiscence from 
himself. It was related in a speech at Pittsfield, Massachu- 
setts, in 1843. 

" In 1775 the minute men, from a hundred towns in the 
Provinces, were marching to the scenes of the opening war. 
Many of them called at our house, and received the hospitality 
of John Adams. All were lodged in the house whom the house 
would contain, others in the barns, and wherever they could 
find a place. There were then in my father's house some dozen 
or two of pewter spoons ; and I well recollect seeing some of 
the men engaged in running those spoons into bullets. Do 
you wonder that a boy of seven years of age, who witnessed 
these scenes, should be a patriot ?" 

He saw from Penn's Hill the flames of Charlestown, and 
heard the guns of Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights. 

In one of her letters from France, Mrs. Adams remarks 
that he was generally taken to be older than his sister (about 
two years older than he), because he usually conversed with 
persons older than himself — a remarkable proof of a constant 
aim at improvement, of a wise discernment of the means, and 
of the maturity of acquisitions already made. Edward Ever- 
ett remarks in his eulogy, that such a stage as boyhood seems 
not to have been in the life of J ohn Quincy Adams. While 



he was under ten, he wrote to his father the earliest produc- 
tion of his pen which has been given to the public. It is found 
in Governor Seward's Memoir of his life, and was addressed to 
his father. 

Braintree, June 2d, 117*7. 

Dear Sir : — I love to receive letters very well, much better 
than I love to write them. I make but a poor figure at com- 
position. My head is much too fickle. My mind is running- 
after bird's eggs, play and trifles, till I get vexed with myself. 
Mamma has a troublesome task to keep me a studying. I 
own I am ashamed of myself. I have but just entered the 
third volume of Rollin's History, but I designed to have got 
half thro' it by this time. I am determined this week to be 
more diligent. Mr. Thaxter is absent at Court. I have set 
myself a stent this week to read the third volume half out. 
If I can keep my resolution, I may again, at the end of a week, 
give a better account of myself. I wish, sir, you would give 
me in writing some instructions in regard to the use of my 
time, and advise me how to proportion my studies and play, 
and I will keep them by me, and endeavor to follow them. 

With the present determination of growing better, I am, 
dear sir, your son, JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. 

P. S. Sir, if you will be so good as to favor me with a blank- 
book, I will transcribe the most remarkable passages I meet 
with in my reading, which will serve to fix them on my 

Soon after the evacuation of Boston by Lord Howe, Mrs. 
Adams announces that " Johnny has become post-rider from 
Boston to Braintree." The distance was nine miles, and he 


was nine years old. In this hardy enterprise, and in the fore- 
going letter, we may mark the strong hold which the favorite 
maxims of the parents had taken of their child's mind. Among 
those maxims were these : 

To begin composition very early by writing descriptions of 
natural objects, as a storm, a country residence ; or narrative 
of events, as a walk, ride, or the transactions of a day. 

To transcribe the best passages from the best writers in 
the course of reading, as a means of forming the style as well 
as storing the memory. * 

To cultivate spirit and hardihood, activity and power of 

Soon after this, the lad ceased to have a home except in 
the bosom of affection, and that was a divided one. On the 
13th of February, 1778, he embarked for France with his 
father, who had been appointed a commissioner, jointly with 
Dr. Franklin and Arthur Lee, to negotiate treaties of alliance 
and commerce with that country. From the place of embar- 
cation his father wrote : " Johnny sends his duty to his mamma, 
and love to his sister and brothers. He behaves like a man." 

When they arrived in France, after escaping extraordinary 
perils at sea, they found the treaty of alliance already conclud- 
ed. The son was put to school in Paris, and gave his father 
" great satisfaction, both by his assiduity to his books and his 
discreet behavior/' all which the father lovingly attributes to 
the lessons of the mother. He calls the boy " the joy of his 

He was permitted to tarry but three months, when he was 
commissioned to negotiate treaties of independence, peace, and 
commerce with Great Britain. He embarked for France in the 



month of November, accompanied by Francis Dana as secretary 
of legation, and by his two oldest sons, John and Charles.'' 
The vessel sprung a leak and was compelled to put into 
the nearest port, which proved to be Ferrol, where they landed 
safe December seventh. One of the first things was to buy a 
dictionary and grammar for the boys, who " went to learning 
Spanish as fast as possible." Over high mountains, by rough 
and miry roads, a-muleback, and in the depth of winter, they 
wound their toilsome way, much of the time on foot, from 
Ferrol to Paris, a journey of a thousand miles, arriving about 
the middle of February, 1780. On this occasion, it is to be 
presumed, Master Johnny must have derived no small bene- 
fit from the service he had seen as " post-rider." 

At Paris he immediately entered an academy, but in the 
autumn accompanied his father to Holland, who had received 
superadded commissions to negotiate private loans, and public 
treaties there. For a few months the son was sent to a com- 
mon school in Amsterdam, but in December he was removed 
to Leyden, to learn Latin and Greek under the distinguished 
teachers there, and to attend the lectures of celebrated profes- 
sors in the University. The reasons of this transfer are worth 
repeating, as they mark the strong and habitual aversion 
which John Adams felt and inculcated, to every species of 
littleness and meanness. 

" I should not wish to have children educated in the com- 
mon schools of this country, where a littleness of soul is noto- 
rious. The masters are mean-spirited wretches, pinching, 
kicking and boxing the children upon every turn. There is a 

* Died early in the city of New-York, soon after entering upon the practice 
of law. 


general littleness, arising from the incessant contemplation of 
stivers and doits. Frugality and industry are virtues every 
where, but avarice and stinginess are not frugality." 

In July, 1781, the son accompanied to St. Petersburg^ 
Mr. Francis Dana, who had been appointed Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary to the court of Russia. The original purpose was 
study, observation, and general improvement, under the guid- 
ance of a trusty and accomplished friend. The youth was 
not, as has been stated, appointed secretary of the Minister 
at the time they started ; but by his readiness and capability 
he came to be employed by Mr. Dana as interpreter and secre- 
tary, difficult and delicate trusts, probably never before confided 
to a boy of thirteen. 

In October, 1782, the youth left St. Petersburgh, and pay- 
ing passing visits to Sweden, Denmark, Hamburg, and Bre- 
men, reached the Hague in April, 1783, and there resumed his 
studies. Meantime his father, having received assurances that 
Great Britain was prepared to treat for peace on the basis of 
independence, had repaired to Paris to open the negotiation. 
He found that Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, two of his colleagues 
on the same commission, had commenced the business first 
with informal agents, and afterwards with a commissioner of his 
majesty, George the Third. The Definitive Treaty was signed 
September the third, 1783, at which act John Quincy Adams 
was summoned by his father to be present, and to assume 
the duties of secretary. In that capacity he made one of the 
copies of the treaty. The father on this occasion wrote : " Con- 
gress are at such grievous expense that I shall have no other 
secretary but my son. He, however, is a very good one. He 
writes a good hand very fast, and is steady at his pen and books." 



In this autumn the two made a trip to London, partly for 
the health of the elder, which had been seriously impaired by 
incessant labor, and partly for the benefit of the younger, as 
it was expected then that both would bid adieu to Europe and 
embark for America in the ensuing spring. John Adams had 
the satisfaction of hearing the King announce to the Parlia- 
ment and people from the throne, that he had concluded a 
Treaty of Peace with the United States of America. 

In January, 1784, the father and son proceeded to Holland 
to negotiate a new loan for the purpose of meeting the inter- 
est on the former one. There they remained until the latter 
part of July, when a letter came communicating the arrival 
of Mrs. Adams and her daughter in London. J ohn Adams 
despatched his son to meet them, and wrote to his wife : 

" Your letter of the twenty-third has made me the hap- 
piest man upon earth. I am twenty years younger than I 
was yesterday. It is a cruel mortification to me that I can- 
not go to meet you in London ; but there are a variety of 
reasons decisively against it, which I will communicate to you 
here. Meantime I send you a son, who is one of the greatest 
travellers of his age, and without partiality, I think as prom- 
ising and manly a youth, as is in the whole world. He will 
purchase a coach, in which we four must travel to Paris ; let it 
be large and strong. After spending a week or two here you will 
have to set out with me for France, but there are no seas be- 
tween ; a good road, a fine season, and we will make moderate 
journeys, and see the curiosities of several cities in our way, — 
Utrecht, Breda, Antwerp, Brussels, &c. &c. It is the first time 
in Europe that I looked forward to a journey with pleasure. 
Now I expect a reat deal. I think myself made for this world." 



John Quincy Adams reached London the thirtieth of July. 
" When he entered/' says Mrs. Adams, " we had so many 
strangers that I drew back, not really believing my eyes, till 
he cried out, £ my mamma, and my dear sister ! ' Nothing 
but the eyes appeared what he once was. His appearance is 
that of a man, and in his countenance the most perfect good- 
humor. His conversation by no means denies his station. I 
think you do not approve the word feelings. I know not what 
to substitute in lieu, nor how to describe mine/' The son was 
then seventeen, and the separation had continued nearly five 

Notwithstanding that the husband's letter had forbidden 
hope of his participating in this re-union, he did so after all, 
practising a surprise charmingly delicate and gallant. It was 
a blissful meeting not only of happy friends, but of merit and 
reward, a beautiful and honorable consummation of mutual 
sacrifices and toils. Seldom does the cup of joy so effervesce. 

Independence predicted in youth, moved and sustained 
with unrivalled eloquence in manhood, at home — confirmed 
and consolidated by loans, alliances, ships, and troops — obtain- 
ed, in part or all, by him, abroad — Washington nominated 
Chief of the army — the American Navy created — peace ne- 
gotiated — this, this (if civic virtues and achievments were 
honored only equally with martial) would have been the cir- 
cle of Golden Medals, which John Adams might have laid at 
the feet of his admirable wife ! 

Five months after this, as if too full for earlier utterance, 
she wrote to her sister : " You will chide me, perhaps, for not 
relating to you an event which took place in London, that of 
unexpectedly meeting my long absent friend ; for from his let- 



ters by my son, I had no idea that he would come. But you 
know, my dear sister, that poets and painters wisely draw a 
veil over scenes which surpass the pen of the one and the pen- 
cil of the other." 

The family reached Paris in the latter part of August, and 
established their residence at Auteuil, four miles from the city. 
The son pursued his studies, his mother, by his particular 
desire, writing her charming letters to American friends by his 
fireside. Sometimes he copied them in his plain and beautiful 
hand, always equal to print, and made her think, as she gayly 
remarks, that they were really worth something. The circle 
of familiar visitors included Franklin, Jefferson and his daugh- 
ter, La Fayette and his wife ; of formal, all the ministers do- 
mestic and foreign, and as many of the elite of fashion and 
of fame as they chose. But Mrs. Adams was always a modest 
and retiring woman. Of Franklin she wrote : " His character, 
from my infancy, I had been taught to venerate. I found him 
social, not talkative ; and when he spoke, something useful 
dropped from his tongue." 

Of Jefferson, " I shall really regret to leave Mr. Jefferson. 
He is one of the choice ones of the earth. On Thursday I 
dine with him at Ins house. On Sunday he is to dine with us. 
On Monday we all dine with the Marquis." 

In the spring of 1785 John Adams received the appoint- 
ment of Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain, the first 
from the United States of America. A new separation ensued. 
He, his wife and daughter departed for London, but not the 
son, as has been stated. He departed for Harvard University, 
where, in the following March, he entered the Junior Class, and 
graduated with distinguished honor in 1787. He studied law 


at Newburyport in the office of Theophilus Parsons, afterwards 
the eminent Chief J ustice. He entered upon the practice of 
the law in Boston in 1790, and boarded in the family of Dr. 
Thomas Welsh. He continued thus four years, gradually en- 
larging the circle of his business and the amount of his income. 
Meantime, great and exciting public questions arose, and in 
discussing them he obtained a sudden and wide distinction. 
A tract from his pen in answer to a portion of Paine' s Rights 
of Man, and expressing doubts of the ultimate success of the 
French Revolution, appeared in 1791, was republished in 
England and attributed to John Adams. This was at a time 
when the enthusiasm for the great French movement was at 
its height in this country. Events too soon showed that the 
writer had inherited his father's sagacity. 

Another publication of his, which appeared in 1793, main- 
tained the right, duty and policy of our assuming a neu- 
tral attitude towards the respective combatants in the wars 
arising from the French Revolution. This publication pre- 
ceded Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality. In the same 
year Mr. Adams reviewed the course of Genet, applying to it 
and the condition of the country the principles of public law. 

These writings attracted the attention of Washington, and 
he is supposed to have derived essential aid from them in some 
of the most difficult conjunctures of his administration. Upon 
the recommendation of Jefferson, made as he was about to 
retire from the office of Secretary of State, Washington deter- 
mined to appoint John Quincy Adams Minister Resident in 
Holland. An intimation from Washington to the Vice-Presi- 
dent, in order that he might give his wife timely notice to 
prepare for the departure of her son, was the first knowledge 



that any member of the family had, that such an appointment 
was thought of. Mr. Adams repaired to his post, and remained 
there till near the close of Washington's administration, with 
the exception of an additional mission to London in 1795, to 
exchange ratifications of Jay's treaty, and agree upon certain 
arrangements for its execution. 

On this occasion he met, at the house of her father, the 
American consul in London, Miss Louisa Catherine John- 
son, who afterwards became his wife. In consequence of a 
rumor of his intending to resign, Washington wrote to the 
Vice-President : 

" Your son must not think of retiring from the path he is 
in. His prospects, if he pursues it, are fair ; and I shall be 
much surprised, if, in as short a time as can well be expected, 
he is not at the head of the Diplomatic Corps, be the govern- 
ment administered by whomsoever it may." 

Subsequently Washington expressed himself still more 
strongly, aiming to overcome the scruples of President Adams 
about cantinuing his son in office under his own administration. 
J ust before his retirement, Washington appointed him Minister 
Plenipotentiary to Portugal. This destination was changed 
by his father to Berlin. Before assuming the station, he was 
married in London to Miss Johnson. 

While in Prussia he negotiated an important commercial 
treaty, and wrote letters from Silesia, which were published in 
the portfolio, and passed through some editions and translations 
in Europe. In 1801 he was recalled by his father, to save, 
as it is said, Mr. Jefferson from the awkwardness of turning- 
out the son of his old friend, whose appointment he had re- 
commended. If such was the motive of the recall, it was a 


miscalculation, for Jefferson did not hesitate to remove him 
from the small office of commissioner of bankruptcy, to which 
he had been appointed by the district judge of Massachusetts 
upon his return from abroad. Mr. Jefferson defended himself 
from censure for this little act, by alleging that he did not 
know when he made the removal, nor who the incumbent of 
the office was ; an excuse more inexcusable than the act itself. 

Mr. Adams re-established himself with his family in Bos- 
ton. He occupied a house in Hanover-street, not now stand- 
ing, and another which he purchased at the corner of Tremont 
and Boylston streets, now used for stores, and owned by his 
only surviving son. 

In 1802 he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts 
from Suffolk county. 

In 1803, to the Senate of the United States. 

In 1806, Professor of Khetoric and Oratory in Harvard 
University, but in subordination to his duties in Congress. 

In 1808 he resigned his seat in the Senate, the Legisla- 
ture of his State having instructed him to oppose the restric- 
tive measures of Jefferson, and he having given a zealous 
support to the embargo. 

In 1809 he was appointed by Madison Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary to Kussia ; and resigned his professorship in the University. 

In 1811 he was nominated by Madison and unanimously 
confirmed by the Senate, as judge of the Supreme Court of 
the United States. Mr. Adams having declined this office, 
Judge Story was appointed. 

In 1814 he was appointed first commissioner at Ghent to 
treat with Great Britain for peace. 

In 1815, Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain. 



In 1817, Secretary of State. 

In 1825, elected President of the United States. 

Mr. Adams, released from the toils of thirty-five years of 
unintermitted public service, now sought a home which re- 
mains to be described. 

John Adams, while yet minister in England, purchased a 
seat in Quincy of Mr. Borland, an old friend and neighbor, 
descended from the Vassals, a considerable family in the town 
and province : this was in 1786. On his return from Europe 
in 1788, the purchaser took possession with his family ; and 
with the exception of two terms as Vice-President, and one as 
President of the United States, he never left it until his death 
on the fourth of July, 1826. This estate descended to his 
son, as did also that at Penn's Hill. 

It is situated about half a mile north of Quincy village, on 
the old Boston road, where massive mile-stones, erected before 
the birth of J ohn Adams, may still be seen. The farm con- 
sists of one hundred acres, now productive, though in a rude 
state when acquired. Mrs. John Adams described her hus- 
band in 1801 as " busy among his haymakers, and getting 
thirty tons on the spot, which eight years before yielded only 

The house is supposed to be a hundred and fifty years old. 
It is built of wood, quite unpretending, yet from association 
or other cause, it has a distinguished and venerable aspect. Ap- 
proached from the north or city side, it presents a sharp gable 
in the old English style of architecture. The opposite end is 
very different, and has a hipped or gambrel gable. The 
length may be some seventy feet, the height thirty, consisting 
of two stories, and a suit of attic chambers, with large lu- 


thern windows. A piazza runs along the centre of the base- 
ment in front. The south or gambrel-roofed section of the 
edifice, was built by John Adams. The principal entrance is 
at the junction of this section with the main building. It 
opens into a spacious entry with a staircase on the right, and 
busts of Washington and John Quincy Adams on the left. At 
the foot of the stairs is the door of the principal apartment, 
called the Long Koom. It is plainly finished, and about seven 
feet in height. It contains portraits of John Adams and his 
wife by Stewart, John Quincy Adams and his wife by the 
same ; Thomas Jefferson in French costume, taken in France 
by Browne. He appears much handsomer than in most of 
his portraits. Over the fireplace is a very old and curious 
picture of a child, supposed by John Quincy Adams to be his 
great-grandfather, John Quincy. There are several other por- 
traits of less note. The chairs are of plain mahogany, with 
stuffed seats and backs, and hair-cloth coverings. They be- 
longed to Mrs. Adams. Opposite to the door of this room, on 
the left side of the entry, is the door of the dining-room, call- 
ed the Middle Koom. This is within the original building. 
It contains a number of portraits ; the most conspicuous is 
that of Washington in his uniform. It was painted by Savage, 
and was purchased by the elder Adams. It has a more sol- 
emn and concentrated look than Stewart's Washington — more 
expressive, but not so symmetrical. It resembles Peale's 
Pater Patriae. John Quincy Adams considered it a better 
likeness than the popular portraits. It is said to have been 
taken when Washington had lost his teeth, and had not sub* 
stituted artificial ones. The lips appear much compressed, the 
visage elongated and thinner than in Stewart's picture. By 



its side is Mrs. Washington, painted by the same artist. There 
is a fine engraving of Copley's picture of the Death of Chat- 
ham. It is a proof copy, presented by the painter to John 
Adams. Passing from the Middle Boom through another but 
small front entry, we reach the north basement room, called 
the Keeping Koom. This is finished with considerable luxury 
for a provincial parlor of its time. It is panelled from floor 
to ceiling with mahogany. The effect is somewhat heavy, to 
obviate which the elder Mrs. Adams, a votary of all cheerful- 
ness, had it painted white. It has now been restored, and 
presents an antique and rich appearance. Nearly all the fur- 
niture of this as well as the Middle Room, including the Tur- 
key carpet of the latter, still bright and substantial, was John 
Adams's. All these apartments are connected by a longitu- 
dinal passage in the rear, which communicates with the 

The Library is in the second story over the Long Room. 
This chamber was constantly occupied by the Elder President, 
both for a sitting and sleeping room during his latter years. 
Here the writer saw him at the age of nearly ninety, delighted 
with hearing Scott's novels, or Dupuis' Origine de tous les 
Cultes, or the simplest story-book, which he could get his 
grandchildren to read to him. He seemed very cheerful, and 
ready to depart, remarking that " he had eat his cake." When 
his son came home from Washington, he converted this room 
into a library. Of course his books are very miscellaneous 
both as to subjects and languages ; but they are not all here. 
Some are arranged on the sides of passage-ways and in other 
parts. A portion of them compose in part a library at his 
son's town residence. John Adams in his lifetime gave his 



library — a very valuable one — to the town of Quincy, together 
with several tracts of land for the erection of an academy or 
classical school, to which his library is ultimately to attach. 
The entire library of John Quincy Adams comprises twelve 
thousand volumes. To this must be added a chest full of 
manuscripts, original and translated, in prose and poetry. 
They show unbounded industry. From his boyhood to the age 
of fifty, when he took the Department of State, he was an 
intense student. In this chest are many of the earlier fruits, 
such as complete versions of a large number of the classics, of 
German and other foreign works. 

The garden lies on the north, contiguous to the house, and 
connects with a lawn, narrow in front of the house, but widening 
considerably south of it. The whole is inclosed on the road- 
side by a solid wall of Quincy granite, some six feet high, except 
the section immediately before the house, which is a low stone 
wall, surmounted by a light wooden fence of an obsolete fashion, 
with two gates in the same style, leading to the two front 
doors. The whole extent does not much exceed an acre. It 
embraces an ornamental and kitchen garden, the former occu- 
pying the side near the road, and the latter extending by the 
side and beyond the kitchen and offices to an open meadow 
and orchard. The principal walk is through the ornamental 
portion of the garden, parallel with the road, and terminates 
at a border of thrifty forest trees, disposed, as they should be, 
without any regard to order. From the walk above-mentioned 
another strikes out at a right angle, and skirts the border of 
trees, till it disappears in the expanse of meadow. Most of 
the trees were raised by J ohn Quincy Adams from the seeds, 
which he was in the habit of picking up in his wanderings. 


The most particular interest attaches to a shagbark, which he 
planted more than fifty years ago. It stands near the angle 
of the two alleys. In this tree he took a particular satisfaction, 
hut he was an enthusiast in regard to all the trees of the 
forest, differing in this respect from his father, who, as an agri- 
culturist of the Cato stamp, was more inclined to lay the axe 
to them than to propagate them. From this plantation Charles 
Francis Adams was supplied with a great number and variety 
of trees to embellish a residence, which he built in his father's 
lifetime on the summit of a high hill, west of the old mansion. 
This is called President's Hill. It affords one of the finest 
sea landscapes which can be found. John Adams used to say 
that he had never seen, in any part of the world, so fine a view. 
It comprises a wide range of bays, islands and channels seaward, 
with seats and villages on the intervening land. This prospect 
lies eastward, and includes Mount Wollaston, situated near the 
seashore, and remarkable as the first spot settled in the town 
and State, and as giving its name for many of the first years 
to the entire settlement. This belonged to the great-grand- 
father, John Quincy, and is now a part of the Adams estate. 

The meeting-house is half a mile south of the old mansion. 
The material is granite, a donation of John Adams. It has a 
handsome portico, supported by beautiful and massive Doric 
pillars, not an unfit emblem of the donor. Beneath the porch, 
his son constructed, in the most durable manner, a crypt, in 
which he piously deposited the remains of his parents ; and in 
the body of the church, on the right of the pulpit, he erected 
to their sacred memories a marble monument surmounted by 
a bust of John Adams, and inscribed with an affecting and 
noble epitaph. 


After leading " a wandering life about the world," as he 
himself calls it — a life of many changes and many labors, John 
Quincy Adams, at sixty-two, sought the quiet and seclusion of 
his father's house. He was yet, for his years, a model of physical 
vigor and activity ; for, though by nature convivial as his fathei 
was, and capable, on an occasion, of some extra glasses, he 
was by habit moderate in meat and drink, never eating more 
than was first served on his plate, and consequently never 
mixing a variety of dishes. He used himself to attribute much 
of the high health he enjoyed to his walks and his baths. 
Early every morning, when the season admitted, he sought a 
place where he could take a plunge and swim at large. A 
creek, with a wharf or pier projecting into it, called Black's 
Wharf, about a quarter of a mile from his house, served these 
purposes in Quincy. At Washington he resorted to the broad 
Potomac. There, leaving his apparel in charge of an attend- 
ant, (for it is said that it was once purloined !) he used to 
buffet the waves before sunrise. He was an easy and expert 
swimmer, and delighted so much in the element, that he would 
swim and float from one to two or three hours at a time. An 
absurd story obtained currency, that he used this exercise in 
winter, breaking the ice, if necessary, to get the indispensable 
plunge ! This was fiction. He did not bathe at all in winter, 
nor at other times from theory, but for pleasure. 

He bore abstinence and irregularity in his meals with 
singular indifference. Whether he breakfasted at seven or 
ten, whether he dined at two, or not at all, appeared to be 
questions with which he did not concern himself. It is related 
that having sat in the House of Kepresentatives from eight 
o'clock in the momino; till after midnisrht, a friend accosted 



him, and expressed the hope that he had taken refreshment in 
all that time ; he replied that he had not left his seat, and held 
up a bit of hard bread. His entertainments of his friends were 
distinguished for abundance, order, elegance, and the utmost 
perfection in every particular, but not for extravagance and 
luxury of table furniture. His accomplished lady, of course, 
had much to do with this. He rose very early, lighting the 
fire and his lamp in his library, while the surrounding world 
was yet buried in slumber. This was his time for writing. 
Washington and Hamilton had the same habit. 

He was unostentatious and almost always walked, whether 
for visiting, business or exercise. At Quincy he used to go up 
President's Hill to meet the sun from the sea, and sometimes 
walked to the residence of his son in Boston before breakfast. 
Kegularly, before the hour of the daily sessions of Congress, 
he was seen wending his quiet way towards the Capitol, seldom 
or never using, in the worst of weather, a carriage. He stayed 
one night to a late hour, listening to a debate in the Senate 
on the expunging resolution. As he was starting for home 
in the face of a fierce snow-storm, and in snow a foot deep, a 
gentleman proposed to conduct him to his house. " I thank 
you, sir, for your kindness," said he, " but I do not need the 
service of any one. I am somewhat advanced in life, but not 
yet, by the blessing of God, infirm, or what Dr. Johnson would 
call c superfluous and you may recollect what old Adam says 
in ' As you Like it' — 

" 'For in my youth I never did apply 
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood.'" 

While he was President, the writer was once sitting in the 


drawing-room of a highbred lady in Boston. A hat not very- 
new glanced under the window sill. The owner rung at the 
door, and not rinding the gentleman at home, continued his 
walk. A servant entered and presented the card of John 
Quincy Adams. "I do wonder/' exclaimed the lady, " that 
the President of the United States will go about in such a 
manner \" 

His apparel was always plain, scrupulously neat, and 
reasonably -well worn. It was made for the comfort of the 
wearer, who asked not of the fashions. 

When he retired from the Presidency, he resolved to pass 
the remainder of his days under the paternal roof and the 
beloved shades. He anticipated and desired nothing but quiet, 
animated by the excitements of intellectual and rural occupa- 
tions. He had before him the congenial task, to which he had 
long aspired, of dispensing the treasures of wisdom contained 
in the unwritten life and unpublished writings of his father. 
He was ready to impart of his own inexhaustible wealth of 
experience, observation and erudition, to any one capable of 
receiving. It takes much to reconcile a thoughtful mind to 
the loss of what would have been gained by the proposed 
employment of his leisure. And we had much. 

Had the record of his public life, ample and honorable as 
it was, been now closed, those pages on which patriots, philan- 
thropists and poets will for ever dwell with gratitude and 
delight, would have been wanting. Hitherto he had done 
remarkably well what many others, with a knowledge of pre- 
cedents and of routine and with habits of industry, might have 
done, if rot as well, yet acceptably. He was now called to do 
what no other man in the Kepublic had strength and heart to 



He was endowed with a memory uncommonly retentive. He 
could remember and quote with precision, works which he had 
not looked at for forty years. Add to this his untiring diligence 
and perseverance, and the advantages of his position and em- 
ployment at various capitals in the old world, and the story of 
his vast acquisitions is told. His love lay in history, literature, 
moral philosophy and public law. With the Greek, Latin, 
French, German, and Italian languages and principal writers 
he was familiar. His favorite English poet was Shakspeare, 
whom he commented upon and recited with discrimination and 
force, surpassing, it is said, in justness of conception, the great 
personators of his principal characters. Among the classics, he 
especially loved Ovid, unquestionably the Shakspeare of the 
Komans. Cicero was greatly beloved, and most diligently 
studied, translated, and commented upon. For many of his 
latter years he never read continuously. He would fall asleep 
over his book. But to elucidate any subject he had in hand, 
he wielded his library with wakefulness and execution lively 

He was fond of art in all its departments, but most in the 
pictorial. In his " Eesidence at the Court of London," Mr. 
Kush has drawn an attractive sketch of him at home. 

" His tastes were all refined. Literature and art were fa- 
miliar and dear to him. At his hospitable board I have listen- 
ed to disquisitions from his lips, on poetry, especially the 
dramas of Shakspeare, music, painting and sculpture, of rare 
excellence and untiring interest. A critical scholar in the 
dead languages, in French, German and Italian, he could 
draw at will from the wealth of these tongues to illustrate any 
particular topic. There was no fine painting or statue, of 


which he did not know the details and the history. There 
was not even an opera, or a celebrated composer, of which or 
of whom he could not point out the distinguishing merits 
and the chief compositions. Yet he was a hard-working and 
assiduous man of business ; and a more regular, punctual, and 
comprehensive diplomatic correspondence than his, no country 
can probably boast." 

Mr. Adams was generally regarded as cold and austere. 
The testimony of persons who enjoyed an intimacy with him 
is the reverse of this. Mr. Kush says that " under an exterior 
of at times repulsive coldness, dwelt a heart as warm, sympa- 
thies as quick, and affections as overflowing as ever animated 
any bosom/' And Mr. Everett, that " in real kindness and 
tenderness of feeling, no man surpassed him." There is an 
abundance of like evidence on this head. 

He was taciturn rather than talkative, preferring to think 
and to muse. At times his nature craved converse, and de- 
lighted in the play of familiar chat. Occasionally he threw 
out a lure to debate. If great principles were seriously called 
in question, he would pour out a rapid and uninterrupted 

The poets had been the delight of his youth. He read 
them in the intervals of retirement at Quincy with a youthful 
enthusiasm, and tears and laughter came by turns, as their sad 
and bright visions passed before him. Pope was a favorite, " and 
the intonations of his voice in repeating the e Messiah/ " says 
an inmate of the family, " will never cease to vibrate on the 
ear of memory." He was a deeply religious man, and though 
not taking the most unprejudiced views of divinity, what he 
received as spiritual truths were to him most evident and mo- 



mentous realities, and lie derived from them a purifying and 
invigorating power. " The dying Christian's Address to his 
Soul " was replete with pathos and beauty for him. He is re- 
membered to have repeated it one evening with an intense ex- 
pression of religious faith and joy ; adding the Latin lines of 
Adrian, winch Pope imitated. He was thought by some to 
have a tendency to Calvinistic theology, and to regard Unita- 
rianism as too abstract and frigid. Thus he used sometimes 
to talk, but it was supposed to be for the purpose of putting 
Unitarians upon a defence of their faith, rather than with a se- 
rious design to impair it. 

On one occasion he conversed on the subject of popular 
applause and admiration. Its caprice, said he, is equalled 
only by its worthlessness, and the misery of that being 
who lives on its breath. There is one stanza of Thomson's 
Castle of Indolence, that is worth whole volumes of modern 
poetry ; though it is the fashion to speak contemptuously of 
Thomson. He then repeated with startling force of manner 
and energy of enunciation, the third stanza, second canto, of 
that poem. 

" I care not, fortune, what you me deny ; 
You cannot rob me of free nature's grace, 
You cannot shut the windows of the sky, 
Through which Aurora shows her brightening face ; 
You cannot bar my constant feet to trace 
The woods and lawns by living streams at eve : 
Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace, 
And I their toys to the great children leave ; 
Of Fancy, Reason, Virtue, nought can me bereave." 

He did not much admire the poetry of Byron, 
jection which he is recollected to have made to the 

One ob- 
poet was 


the use of the word " rot/' There is some peculiarity in By- 
ron in this respect ; thus in Childe Harold : — 

"The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored, 
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot." 

This, if a sound objection, which it is not, was narrow for 
so great a man. The cause of this distaste lay deeper. Mr. 
Adams, though a dear lover of Shakspeare, was of the John- 
sonian school of writers. His diction is elaborate, stately, and in 
Iris earlier writings verbose, but always polished, harmonious, and 
sustained. He liked unconsciously Latin English better than 
Anglo-Saxon. Byron, in common with a large and increasing 
class of moderns, loved to borrow the force of familiar and 
every-day language, and to lend to it the dignity and beauty 
of deep thought and high poetic fancy. Not improbably, the 
moral obliquities of the poet had their influence in qualifying 
the opinion formed of his writings, by a man of such strict 
rectitude as Mr. Adams. 

He was fond of Watts's Psalms and Hymns, and repeated 
them often, sometimes rising from his seat in the exaltation of 
his feelings. Among favorite stanzas was this one : 

Sweet fields, beyond the swelling flood, 

Stand dressed in living green ; 
So to the Jews old Canaan stood, 

While Jordan rolled between. 

Until his private letters shall be published, no adequate 
conception can be formed of the devotion he paid to his mother. 
This may give an inkling of it. A young friend inquired of 
him, when he was once at Hingham on their annual fishing 
party in his honor, in which of his poems a certain line was to 
be found, viz. — 



" Hull — but that name's redeemed upon the wave," 

referring to the surrender of General Hull, so soon followed 
(only three days after, August 16 — 19, 1812) by the capture 
of the Guerriere by Captain Hull. " I do not," he replied, 
" but I have been often struck by the coincidence. I think, 
however, the line occurs in a poem addressed to my mother!' 

The best saying of Mr. Adams was in reply to the inquiry, 
What are the recognized principles of politics ? 

Mr. Adams. There are none. There are recognized pre- 
cepts, but they are bad, and so not principles. 

But is not this a sound one, " The greatest good of the 
greatest number ?" 

Mr. Adams. No, that is the worst of all, for it looks 
specious, while it is ruinous ; for what is to become of the mi- 
nority ? This is the only principle — The greatest good of all. 

It must be admitted that much tyranny lurks in this 
favorite democratic tenet, not half as democratic, however, as 
Mr. Adams's amendment. Wrongs and outrages the most 
unmerciful, have been committed by majorities. It may even 
happen where the forms of law are maintained ; but what shall 
be said when the majority resolves itself into a mob ? When 
rivers of innocent blood may (as they have) run from city gates. 
The tyranny of majorities is irresponsible, without redress, and 
without punishment, except in the ultimate iron grasp of "the 
higher law." 

Mr. Adams's view, so much larger than the common one, 
may, with a strong probability, be traced to the mother. In 
her letters to him, she insists again and again upon the duty 
of universal kindness and benevolence. Patriot as she was, 
she pitied the Kefugees. She said to him, 


" Man is bound to the performance of certain duties, all 
which tend to the happiness and welfare of society, and are 
comprised in one short sentence expressive of universal benevo- 
lence : c Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself/ 

u ' Remember more, the Universal Cause 
Acts not by partial, but by general laws ; 
And makes what happiness we justly call, 
Subsist, not in the good of one, but all.' " 

In other letters she illustrated observations in the same 
spirit by these quotations : 

" Shall I determine where his frowns shall fall, 
And fence my grotto from the lot of all ?" 

" Prompt at every call, 
Can watch and weep and pray and feel for all." 

One evening, at his house in F street in Washington, he 
spoke of Judge Parsons, of his depth and subtlety, and the 
conciseness of his language. " Soon after I entered his office 
he said to us students — ' Lord Bacon observes that " reading 
makes a full man, conversation a ready man, writing a correct 
man." Young gentlemen, my advice to you is, that you study 
to be full, ready and correct/ I thought," said Mr. Adams, 
" that I never heard good advice so well conveyed." 

He was asked by the writer whether he had ever received 
any acknowledgment of his services, any mark of gratitude 
from the colored people of the District ? " None," said he — 
" except that I now and then hear, in a low tone, a hearty God 
bless you ! That is enough." 

It was enough ; enough for recompense and for justification, 
since we are in the sad pass that justification is needed — since 



" Virtue itself of Vice must pardon beg, 
And pray for leave to do him good." 

So then, in this Kepublic there are millions of human hearts, 
which are not permitted to love a benefactor, and dare not 
utter for him an invocation, kindred to their devotion to God, 
except "in a low tone !" 

When in 1846 Mr. Adams was struck the first time with 
palsy, he was visited by Charles Sumner, who sat much by his 
bedside. As he became better, he said one day to his visitor : 
H You will enter public life ; you do not want it, but you will 
be drawn into the current, in spite of yourself. Now I have a 
word of advice to give you. Never accept a present. While 
I was in Eussia, the Minister of the Interior, an old man, whose 
conscience became more active as his bodily powers failed, grew 
uneasy on account of the presents he had received. He cal- 
culated the value of them, and paid it all over to the Imperial 
treasury. This put me to thinking upon the subject, and I 
then made a resolution never to accept a present while I 
remained in the public service ; and I never have, unless it 
was some trifling token, as a hat or cane." 

A neighboring clergyman, to whom this conversation was 
related, exclaimed — " A hat ! That cannot be, for he never had 
any but an old one." It was a tradition in Cambridge that 
Mr. Adams, while Professor in the University, was noted for 
indifference to personal appearance, and his well-worn hat was 
particularly remembered. 

In the relation of husband Mr. Adams showed the same 
fidelity and devotedness which characterized him in every other. 
He was united to a woman whose virtues and accomplishments 
blessed and adorned his home. In a letter written shortly 


after his noble vindication of the character of woman, and the 
propriety and utility of their intervention in public affairs, 
he said : 

" Had I not, by the dispensation of Providence, been bless- 
ed beyond the ordinary lot of humanity in all the domestic 
relations of life, as a son, a brother, and a husband, I should 
still have thought myself bound to vindicate the social rights 
and the personal honor of the petitioners, who had confided to 
me the honorable trust of presenting the expression of their 
wishes to the legislative councils of the nation. But that this 
sense of imperious duty was quickened within my bosom by 
the affectionate estimate of the female character impressed 
upon my heart and mind by the virtues of the individual wo- 
man, with whom it has been my lot to pass in these intimate 
relations my days upon earth, I have no doubt." 

In 1840 he had a severe fall, striking his head against the 
corner of an iron rail, which inflicted a heavy contusion on his 
forehead, and rendered him for some time insensible. His left 
shoulder was likewise dislocated. This occurred at the House 
of Representatives after adjournment. Fortunately several 
members were within call, and gave him the most tender and 
assiduous assistance. He was carried to the lodgings of one 
of them, and a physician called. With the united strength 
of four men, it took more than an hour to reduce the disloca- 
tion. " Still," says a witness of the scene, " Mr. Adams ut- 
tered not a murmur, though the great drops of sweat which 
rolled down his furrowed cheeks, or stood upon his brow, told 
but too well the agony he suffered." At his request he was 
immediately conveyed to his house ; and the next morning, to 
the astonishment of every one, he was found in his seat as 


usual. He was accustomed to be the first to enter the House 
and the last to leave it. Mr. Everett tells us that he had his 
seat by the side of the veteran, and that he should not have 
been more surprised to miss one of the marble pillars from the 
hall than Mr. Adams. 

That this painful accident did not impair the vigor of his 
mind is evident from the fact that he subsequently argued the 
Amistad case, and sustained the fierce contest of three days 
on the expulsion resolution in the House. It was three years 
later also that he made the journey for the benefit of his 
health, which turned out an improvised and continuous ova- 
tion. He had designed merely to visit Lebanon Springs. He 
was so much pleased with his journey thus far into the State 
of New- York, that he concluded to prolong it to Quebec, 
Montreal, and Niagara Falls, and return to Massachusetts 
through the length of the empire State. This return was 
signalized by attentions and homage on the part of the people 
so spontaneous and unanimous, that nothing which has occur- 
red since the progress of La Fayette, has equalled it. " Pub- 
lic greetings, processions, celebrations, met and accompa- 
nied every step of his journey." Addresses by eminent men, 
and acclamations of men, women, and children, who thronged 
the way, bore witness of the deep hold which the man, with- 
out accessories of office and pageantry of state, had of their 
hearts. Of this excursion he said himself towards the close of 
it, "I have not come alone, the whole people of the State of 
New- York have been my companions." In the autumn of the 
same year he went to Cincinnati to assist in laying the foun- 
dation of an observatory. This journey was attended by sim- 
ilar demonstrations. At a cordial greeting given him at Mays- 


ville, Kentucky, after an emphatic testimony to the integrity 
of Mr. Clay, he made that renewed and solemn denial of the 
charges of " bargain and corruption." 

He suffered a stroke of paralysis in November, 1846, but 
recovered, and took his seat at the ensuing session of Congress. 
He regarded this as equivalent to a final summons, and made 
no subsequent entry in his faithful diary except under the title 
of " posthumous." After this he spoke little in the House. 

In November, 1847, he left his home in Quincy for the last 
time. On the twentieth of February he passed his last even- 
ing at his house in Washington. He retired to his library at 
nine o'clock, where his wife read to him a sermon by Bishop 
Wilberforce on Time. The next morning he rose early and 
occupied himself with his pen as he was wont. With more than 
usual spryness and alacrity he ascended the stairs of the Cap- 
itol. In the House a resolution for awarding thanks and 
gold medals to several officers concerned in the Mexican war 
was taken up. Mr. Adams uttered his emphatic No ! on two 
or three preliminary questions. When the final question was 
about to be put, and while he was in the act of rising, as it 
was supposed, to address the House, he sunk down. He was 
borne to the speaker's room. He revived so far as to inquire 
for his wife, who was present. He seemed desirous of uttering 
thanks. The only distinct words he articulated were, " This is 
the end of earth. I am content." He lingered until the 
evening of the twenty-third, and then expired. 

Thus he fell at his post in the eighty-first year of his 
age, the age of Plato. With the exception of Phocion there 
is no active public life continued on the great arena, with 
equal vigor and usefulness, to so advanced an age. Lord 



Mansfield retired at eighty-three ; but the quiet routine of a 
judicial station is not as trying as the varied and boisterous 
contentions of a political and legislative assembly. Kipe as 
he was for heaven ; he was still greatly needed upon earth. 
His services would have been of inestimable importance in dis- 
posing of the perilous questions, not yet definitively settled, 
which arose out of unhallowed war and conquest. 

There is not much satisfaction in dwelling upon the gene- 
ral effusions of eloquence, or the pageantry which ensued. A 
single glance of guileless love from the men, women and chil- 
dren, who came forth from their smiling villages to greet the vir- 
tuous old statesman in his unpretending journeys, was worth 
the whole of it. The hearty tribute of Mr. Benton, so long a 
denouncer, has an exceptional value, the greater because he 
had made honorable amends to the departed during his life. 
That he was sincerely and deeply mourned by the nation, 
it would be a libel on the nation to doubt. His remains rest- 
ed appropriately in Independence and Faneuil Halls on the 
way to their final resting place, the tomb he had made for 
those of his venerated parents. There he was laid by his 
neighbors and townsmen, sorrowing for the friend and the man. 
His monument is to stand on the other side of the pulpit. 

Happy place which hallows such memories, and holds up 


Jacks an. 


TPHE events of Jackson's life, even in their chronological 
-L order, dispose themselves into a number of combinations, 
which a skilful pen, guided by the hand of a poet, might easily 
work up into a series of impressive and contrasted pictures. 
We have not the ability, had we the space here, to undertake 
this labor, but we see no reason why we should not present 
some outlines of it, for the benefit of future more competent 

In such a series, we should first see the flaxen-haired, blue- 
eyed son of Irish emigrants, driven from their home by a sense 
of British oppression, opening his young eyes in South Carolina, 
amid the stormy scenes of our Revolution. Around him, his 


friends and neighbors are training for the battle, and preparing 
to defend their homes from an invading foe ; his eldest brother 
Hugh, is brought back dead from the fatigues of active ser- 
vice ; the old Waxhaw meeting-house, a temporary hospital, 
through which he wanders, is crowded with the wounded and 
dying, whose condition moves him to tears, and fills him with 
melancholy impressions of the horrors of war, coupled with a 
deepening sense of English cruelty and oppression, of which 
he had before heard in the tales of his mother and her kindred 
about the old country from which they had fled ; while, finally, 
he himself, but little more than thirteen years of age, in com- 
pany with a brother Robert, takes up arms, is made a prisoner, 
suffers severely from wounds and the small-pox of the jail, loses 
first his brother by that disease, and then his mother by a fever 
caught on board a prison-ship, whither she had gone to nurse 
some captive friends, and is thus left alone in the world, the 
only one of all his family spared by the enemy. 

We should next see the friendless, portionless orphan wend- 
ing his solitary way through the immense forests of the Far 
West, (now the State of Tennessee), where the settlements were 
hundreds of miles from each other, while every tree and rock shel- 
tered an enemy in the shape of some grisly animal, or the person 
of a more savage Indian. But he succeeds in crossing the moun- 
tains, he reaches the infant villages on the Cumberland River, he 
studies and practises the rude law of those distant regions, takes 
part in all the wild vicissitudes of frontier life, repels the red 
man, fights duels with the white, encounters in deadly feuds 
the turbulent spirits of a half-barbarous society, administers 
justice in almost extemporized courts, helps to frame a reg- 
ular State constitution, marries a wife as chivalric, noble, and 



fearless as himself, and at last, when society is reduced to some 
order, is chosen a representative of the backwoods in the 
Congress at Washington. 

Arrived at the seat of government, a tall, thin, uncouth 
figure, with no words to express himself in, and apparently 
without ambition, — he yet shows himself, with all his wild 
western coarseness, a man of insight and decision. He made 
no speeches, he drew up no reports, he created no sensation in 
the committee-room, or the lobbies, — he was not at all known 
as a leader or a prominent individual, but he was one of the 
twelve democrats of the House, who dared to oppose returning 
an answer to Washington's last address, when the fame and 
the personal influence of that exalted man were almost om- 
nipotent. He doubtless estimated the services and the char- 
acter of Washington as highly as any member, but the mea- 
sures of the administration his judgment did not approve, 
and he voted as he thought — a silent uncultivated representa- 
tive, — odd in his dress and look, but with grit in him, not 
appalled even by the stupendous greatness of Washington ! 
On the other hand, he saw in J efferson a man for the times ; 
became his friend, voted for him, and helped his State to vote 
for him as the second President. 

In the next phases of his life we discover Jackson, as the 
dignified and impartial judge, asserting the law in the face of 
a powerful combination of interested opponents ; as the retir- 
ed and prosperous planter, gathering together a large estate, 
which he surrounds with the comforts and luxuries of a refined 
existence, but sells at once when a friend's misfortunes involves 
him in debt, and retires to a primitive log cabin to commence 
his fortunes once more ; as an Indian fighter achieving amid 


hardships of all kinds — the want of funds, the inclemency of 
the season, the ravages of disease, the unskilfulness of superi- 
ors, the insubordination of troops — a series of brilliant victories 
that made his name a terror to the Creeks and all their con- 
federates. His campaign in ,the Floridas broke the power of 
the Indians, secretly in league with the British, forced them 
into a treaty, and wrested Pensacola from the possession of the 
Spanish governor, who had basely violated his neutrality, and 
who, when he wished to negotiate, was answered by Jackson, 
" My diplomacy is in the mouths of my cannon." 

But a different foe and a wider theatre awaited the display 
of his military genius at New Orleans. Worn down with sick- 
ness and exhaustion, with raw and undisciplined troops — many 
of them the mere rabble of the wharves, and some of them 
buccaneers from neighboring islands — scantily supplied with 
arms and ammunition, in the midst of a mixed population of 
different tongues, where attachment to his cause was doubtful, 
continually agitated by gloomy forebodings of the result, though 
outwardly serene, he was surrounded by the flower of the Brit- 
ish army, led by its most brave and accomplished generals. 
The attack commenced : from his breastwork of cotton bales 
his unerring rifles poured a continuous flame of fire. The 
enemy quailed : its leaders were killed or wounded ; and the 
greatest victory of the war crowned the exertions of Jackson 
as the greatest military genius of his time. A universal glow 
of joy and gratitude spread from the liberated city over the 
whole land ; Te deums were sung in the churches ; children 
robed in white strewed his way with flowers ; the nation jubi- 
lantly uttered its admiration and gratitude. It was thus the 
desolated orphan of the Carolinas avenged the wrongs of his 

J A C K SO N . 


family, and asserted the rights of his country, to the lasting 
dishonor of Great Britain. 

Years pass on, and we see the successful General the Pres- 
ident of the People, engaged once more in a fearful struggle ; 
this time not against a foreign foe, but with an internal enemy 
of vast power and tremendous means of mischief. He is fight- 
ing the monster bank — another St. George gallantly charging 
another dragon — and, as usual, comes out of the contest victo- 
rious. The innumerable army of money-changers, wielding a 
power as formidable, though unseen, as that of an absolute 
monarch, is routed amid a horrible clangor of metal and ran- 
corous hisses. The great true man, sustained by an honest 
people, was greater than the power of money. He wrought 
the salvation of his countiy from a hideous corruption — from 
bankruptcy, disgrace, and long years of political subjection. 
His near posterity has recognized the service, and placed him 
among the most illustrious of statesmen. 

Finally, we see the patriot soldier and civilian, a bowed and 
white-haired old man, in his secluded Hermitage, which is sit- 
uated near the scenes of his earliest labors and triumphs. The 
companion of his love, who had shared in his struggles, but 
was not permitted to share in his latest glory, is with him no 
more ; children they had none ; and he moves tranquilly towards 
his grave alone. No ! not alone : for travellers from all 
lands visit his retreat, to gaze upon his venerable form ; his 
countrymen throng his doors, to gather wisdom from his say- 
ings, — his friends and neighbors almost worship him, and an 
adopted family bask in the benignant goodness of his noble 
heart — his great mind, too, " beaming in mildest mellow splen- 
dor, beaming if also trembling, like a great sun on the verge of 



the horizon, near now to its long farewell." Thus, the orphan, 
the emigrant, the Indian fighter, the conquering General, the 
popular President, the venerated Patriarch, goes to the repose 
of the humble Christian. 

• What were the sources of J ackson's pre-eminent greatness, 
of his invariable success, of his resistless personal influence, of 
his deep hold upon the minds of his fellows ? He was no ora- 
tor, he was no writer, he had in fact no faculty of expression, 
he was unsustained by wealth, he never courted the multitude, 
he relied upon no external assistances. What he did, he 
achieved for himself, without aid, directly, and by the mere 
force of his own nature. Neither education, nor family, nor 
the accidents of fortune, nor the friendship of the powerful, helped 
to raise him aloft, and push him forward in his career. The 
secret of his elevation, then, was this, — that he saw the Eight 
and loved it, and was never afraid to pursue it, against all the 
allurements of personal ambition, and all the hostility of the 
banded sons of error. There have been many men of a larger 
reach and compass of mind, and some of a keener insight and 
sagacity, but none, of a more stern, inflexible, self-sacrificing 
devotion to what they esteemed to be true. He carried his 
life in his hand, ready to be thrown away at the call of honor 
or patriotism, and it was this unswerving integrity, which com- 
mended him so strongly to to the affections of the masses. 
Whatever men may be in themselves, their hearts are always 
prone to do homage to honesty. They love those whom they can 
trust, or only hate them, because their justice and truth stands 
in the way of some cherished, selfish object. 

Jackson's will was imperious ; the report does not follow 
the flash more rapidly than his execution of a deed followed 



the conception of it ; or rather his thought and his act were 
an instinctive, instantaneous, inseparable unity. Like a good 
marksman, as soon as he saw his object he fired, and generally 
with effect. This impulsive decision gave rise to some over-hasty 
and precipitate movements, but, in the main, was correct. 
What politicians, therefore, could only accomplish if at all by a 
slow and cunning process of intrigue, what diplomatists reach- 
ed by long-winded negotiations, he marched to, without indirec- 
tion, with his eye always on the point, and his whole body fol- 
lowing the lead of the eye. We do not mean that he was utterly 
without subtlety, — for some subtlety is necessary to the most 
ordinary prudence, and is particularly necessary to the forecast 
of generalship, — but simply that he never dissimulated, never 
assumed disguise, never carried water on both shoulders, as the 
homely phrase has it, and never went around an obstacle, when 
he could level it, or push it out of the way. The foxy or fe- 
line element was small in a nature, into which so much mag- 
nanimity, supposed to be lionlike, entered. 

The popular opinion of Jackson was, that he was an ex- 
ceedingly irascible person, Ins mislikers even painting him as 
liable to fits of roaring and raving anger, when he flung about 
him like a maniac ; but his intimate friends, who occupied the 
same house with him for years, inform us that they never ex- 
perienced any of these strong gusts ; that, though sensitive to 
opposition, impatient of restraint, quick to resent injuries, and 
impetuous in his advance towards his ends, he was yet gentle, 
kindly, placable, faithful to friends and forgiving to foes, a 
lover of children and women, only unrelenting when his quarry 
happened to be meanness, fraud or tyranny. His affections were 
particularly tender and strong ; he could scarcely be made to 



believe any thing to the disadvantage of those he had once 
liked, while his reconciliations with those he had disliked, once 
effected, were frank, cordial and sincere. Colonel Benton, who 
was once an enemy, but afterwards a friend of many years, 
gives us this sketch of some of his leading characteristics : 

" He was a careful farmer, overlooking every thing himself, 
seeing that the fields and fences were in good order, the stock 
well attended, and the slaves comfortably provided for. His 
house was the seat of hospitality, the resort of friends and ac- 
quaintances, and of all strangers visiting the State — and the 
more agreeable to all from the perfect conformity of Mrs. Jack- 
son's disposition to his own. But he needed some excitement 
beyond that which a farming life could afford, and found it for 
some years in the animating sports of the turf. He loved fine 
horses — racers of speed and bottom — owned several — and con- 
tested the four mile heats with the best that could be bred, or 
bought, or brought to the State, and for large sums. That is 
the nearest to gaming that I ever knew him to come. Cards 
and the cock-pit have been imputed to him, but most erro- 
neously. I never saw him engaged in either. Duels were 
usual in that time, and he had his share of them, with their 
unpleasant concomitants ; but they passed away with all their 
animosities, and he has often been seen zealously pressing the 
advancement of those, against whom he had but lately been 
arrayed in deadly hostility. His temper was placable, as well 
as irascible, and his reconciliations were cordial and sincere. 
Of that, my own case was a signal instance. There was a deep- 
seated vein of piety in him, unaffectedly showing itself in his 
reverence for divine worship, respect for the ministers of the 
Gospel, their hospitable reception in his house, and constant 



encouragement of all the pious tendencies of Mrs. Jackson. 
And when they both afterwards became members of a church, 
it was the natural and regular result of their early and cher- 
ished feelings. He was gentle in his house, and alive to the 
tenderest emotions ; and of this I can give an instance, greatly 
in contrast with his supposed character, and worth more than 
a long discourse in showing what that character really was. I 
arrived at his house one wet, chilly evening in February, and 
came upon him in the twilight, sitting alone before the fire, a 
lamb and a child between his knees. He started a little, called 
a servant to remove the two innocents to another room, and 
explained to me how it was. The child had cried because the 
lamb was out in the cold, and begged him to bring it in — which 
he had done to please the child, his adopted son, then not two 
years old. The ferocious man does not do that ! and though 
Jackson had his passions and his violences, they were for men 
and enemies — those who stood up against him — and not for 
women and children, or the weak and helpless, for all of whom 
his feelings were those of protection and support. His hospi- 
tality was active as well as cordial, embracing the worthy in 
every walk of life, and seeking out deserving objects to receive 
it, no matter how obscure. Of this I learned a characteristic 
instance, in relation to the son of the famous Daniel Boone. 
The young man had come to Nashville on Ins father's business, 
to be detained some weeks, and had his lodgings at a small 
tavern, towards the lower part of the town. General J ackson 
heard of it — sought him out — found him, took him home to 
remain as long as his business detained him in the country, 
saying, ' Your father's dog should not stay in a tavern while 


I have a house/ This was heart ! and I had it from the young 
man himself, long after, when he was a State Senator of the 
General Assembly of Missouri, and as such nominated me for 
the United States Senate at my first election in 1820 — his 
name was Benton Boone, and so named after my father. Ab- 
horrence of debt, public and private, dislike of banks and love 
of hard money — love of justice, and love of country, were ruling 
passions with Jackson ; and of these he gave constant evidences 
in all the situations of his life." 

The same distinguished authority has drawn a picture of 
Jackson's retirement from the Presidency, with which we close 
our remarks : 

"The second and last term of General Jackson's presidency 
expired on the 3d of March, 1837. The next day at twelve 
he appeared with his successor, Mr. Van Buren, on the elevated 
and spacious eastern portico of the capitol, as one of the citi- 
zens who came to witness the inauguration of the new Presi- 
dent, and no way distinguished from them, except by his place 
on the left hand of the President-elect. The day was beauti- 
ful : clear sky, balmy vernal sun, tranquil atmosphere ; and 
the assemblage immense. On foot, in the large area in front 
of the steps, orderly without troops, and closely wedged to- 
gether, their faces turned to the portico — presenting to the 
beholders from all the eastern windows the appearance of a 
field paved with human faces — this vast crowd remained riveted 
to their places, and profoundly silent, until the ceremony of 
inauguration was over. It was the stillness and silence of 
reverence and affection, and there was no room for mistake as 
to whom this mute and impressive homage was rendered. For 



once the rising was eclipsed by the setting sun. Though dis- 
robed of power, and retiring to the shades of private life, it was 
evident that the great ex-President was the absorbing object 
of this intense regard. At the moment that he began to de- 
scend the broad steps of the portico to take his seat in the 
open carriage that was to bear him away, the deep, repressed 
feeling of the dense mass broke forth, acclamations and cheers 
bursting from the heart and filling the air, such as power never 
commanded, nor man in power ever received. It was the 
affection, gratitude, and admiration of the living age, saluting 
for the last time a great man. It was the acclaim of posterity 
breaking from the bosoms of contemporaries. It was the an- 
ticipation of futurity — unpurchasable homage to the hero- 
patriot who, all his life, and in all the circumstances of his 
life — in peace and in war, and glorious in each — had been the 
friend of his country, devoted to her, regardless of self. Un- 
covered and bowing, with a look of unaffected humility and 
thankfulness, he acknowledged in mute signs his deep sensibi- 
lity to this affecting overflow of popular feeling. I was looking 
down from a side window, and felt an emotion which had never 
passed through me before. I had seen the inauguration of 
many presidents, and their going away, and their days of state, 
vested with power, and surrounded by the splendors of the first 
magistracy of a great republic ; but they all appeared to me 
as pageants, brief to the view, unreal to the touch, and soon 
to vanish. But here there seemed to be a reality — a real 
scene — a man and the people : he, laying down power and 
withdrawing through the portals of everlasting fame ; they, 
sounding in his ears the everlasting plaudits of unborn gener- 



ations. Two days after I saw the patriot ex-President in the 
car which bore him off to his desired seclusion : I saw him 
depart with that look of quiet enjoyment which bespoke the 
inward satisfaction of the soul at exchanging the cares of office 
for the repose of home. 

Jit it 



HEN in the year 1803, after having served his native 

» " country with distinguished ability for more than seven 
years as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the 
Court of St. James, Rufus King returned to New- York, the city 
of his adoption, he found his political friends in a hopeless mi- 
nority, and the rule of party absolut e, exclusive, and even vindic- 
tive. Mr. King had trained himself from early life to the duties 
of a Statesman, and to that end neglected no study, and above 
all, no self-discipline that might qualify him for the career he 
desired to pursue. After serving several years as a Delegate 


from Massachusetts in the Continental Congress (from 1785 
to 1789), and having, as a member of the Convention called 
for the purpose, been actively instrumental in forming the 
Constitution of the United States, Mr. King became in 1788 
a resident of the city of New- York, where he had married two 
years before, Mary, the only child of John Alsop, a retired 
merchant of that city. Mr. King was much known in New- 
York, for the Continental Congress during his term of service 
held its sessions there ; and the character he had established 
for himself on the score of talent and capacity, may be esti- 
mated by the fact, that he, with General Schuyler for a col- 
league, was selected as one of the first Senators of the United 
States from the State of New-York, under the new constitution. 

His services proved so acceptable, that on the exjDiration of 
his first term, in 1795, he was re-elected, and it was in the 
second year of his second term — in 1796, that he was appointed 
by Washington Minister to England. 

In that post Mr. King continued throughout the residue 
of General Washington's administration, through the whole 
of that of John Adams, and, at the request of President J ef- 
ferson, through two years of his administration, when, having 
accomplished the negotiations he had in hand, Mr. King asked 
to be, and was, recalled. 

During this long residence abroad, remote from the scene 
of the angry partisan politics which disturbed the close of 
Washington's term, and the whole of that of Mr. Adams, 
and which resulted, in 1800, in the entire overthrow of 
the old Federal party, and the success of Mr. Jefferson and 
the Kepublican party — Mr. King had devoted his labors, his 
time and his talents, to the service of his whole county, and 



was little prepared, therefore, either by taste or temper, for 
participation in the angry broils which, on his return home, he 
found prevailing throughout the Union. Adhering, as he did 
to the end, to the political principles of his early life, he never 
doubted, nor saw occasion to change the faith which had made 
him a Federalist, when the name included the Telfairs and 
Habershams of Georgia, the Pinkneys and Eutledges of South 
Carolina, the Davieses and the Sitgreaves of North Carolina, 
the Washingtons and the Marshalls of Virginia, the Carrolls 
and the Hinclmans of Maryland, the Bayards and the Kear- 
nys of Delaware, the Tilghmans and the Binghams of Pennsyl- 
vania, the Patersons and the Stocktons of New Jersey, the 
Jays and Hamiltons of New- York, the Woolcots and the 
Johnsons of Connecticut, the Ellerys and Howells of Ehode 
Island, the Adamses and Otises of Massachusetts, the Smiths 
and Gilmans of New Hampshire, the Tichenors and Chittendens 
of Vermont. But that faith was now in "dim eclipse." The 
popular air was in another direction, and Mr. King was of too 
lofty a character to trim his bark to the veering breeze. Having 
acquired, or rather confirmed by his residence in England (where 
country life is better understood and more thoroughly enjoyed, 
probably, than any where else) a decided taste for the country 
Mr. King soon determined to abandon the city, where — having 
no professional pursuits nor stated occupation — he found few 
attractions, and make his permanent abode in the country. 
After looking at many points on the Hudson River and on the 
Sound, he finally established himself at the village of Jamaica, 
in Queens county, Long Island, distant about twelve miles 
from the city of New- York. In comparison with some of the 
places which he had examined on the waters of the Sound and 


the North Kiver, Jamaica offered few inducements of scenery 
or landscape. But it did offer what to him, and especially to 
his wife, were all-important considerations — proverbial healthi- 
ness, and ready access to church, schools and physicians. Mrs. 
King's health was already drooping, and from the quiet, regular 
life of the country, its pure air, and the out-door exercise to 
which it leads, and of which she was so fond, the hope was 
indulged that she might be completely restored. The property 
purchased by Mr. King, consisting of a well-built, comfortable 
and roomy house, with about ninety acres of land, is situated 
a little to the west of the village, on the great high road of the 
Island from west to east. It is a dead level, of a warm and 
quick soil, readily fertilized, the ridge or back-bone of Long 
Island bounding it on the north. He removed his family 
thither in the spring of 1806, and at once commenced those 
alterations and improvements which have made it what it now 
is — a very pretty and attractive residence for any one who 
finds delight in fine trees, varied shrubbery, a well cultivated 
soil, and the comforts of a large house, every part of which 
is meant for use, and none of it for show. 

When Mr. King took possession of his purchase, the house, 
grounds and fences were after the uniform pattern, then almost 
universal in the region. He soon changed and greatly im- 
proved all. The house, fronting south, was in a bare field, 
about one hundred yards back from the road, and separated 
from it by a white picket fence. A narrow gravel path led in 
a straight line from a little gate, down to the door of the house, 
while further to the east was the gate, through which, on 
another straight line, running down by the side of the house, 
was the entrance for carriages and horses. Two horse-chestnut 



trees, one east and the other west of the house, and about 
thirty feet from it, were, with the exception of some old apple 
trees, the only trees on the place ; and the blazing sun of 
summer, and the abundant dust of the high road at all seasons, 
had unobstructed sweep over the house and lawn, or what was 
to become a lawn. Not a shrub or bush was interposed between 
the house and the fence, to secure any thing like privacy to the 
abode. On the contrary, it seemed to be the taste of the day 
to leave every thing open to the gaze of the wayfarers, and in 
turn to expose those wayfarers, their equipages, and their 
doings, to the inspection of the inmates of all roadside houses. 
Mr. King, who had cultivated the study of Botany, and was 
a genuine admirer of trees, soon went to work in embellishing 
the place which was to be his future home, and in this he was 
warmly seconded by the taste of Mrs. King. The first step 
was, to change the approach to the house, from a straight 
to a circular walk, broad and well rolled ; then to plant out 
the high road. Accordingly, a belt of from twenty to thirty 
feet in width along the whole front of the ground, was prepared 
by proper digging and manuring, for the reception of shrubs 
and trees ; and time and money were liberally applied, but 
with wise discrimination as to the adaptedness to the soil and 
climate, of the plants to be introduced. From the State of 
New Hampshire, through the careful agency of his friend, Mr. 
Sheaffe of Portsmouth, who was vigilant to have them properly 
procured, packed, and expedited to Jamaica. Mr. King re- 
ceived the pines and firs which, now very large trees, adorn 
the grounds. They were, it is believed, among the first, if not 
the first trees of this kind introduced into this part of Long 
Island, and none of the sort were then to be found in the 


nurseries at Flushing. Some acorns planted near the house 
in 1810, are now large trees. Mr. King indeed planted, as the 
Komans builded — " for posterity and the immortal gods/' for 
to his eldest son, now occupying the residence of his father, 
he said, in putting into the ground an acorn of the red oak — 
"If you live to be as old as I am, you will see here a large tree 
and, in fact, a noble, lofty, well-proportioned red oak now 
flourishes there, to delight with its wide-branching beauty, its 
grateful shade, and more grateful associations, not the children 
only, but the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of him 
who planted the acorn. Mr. King possessed, in a remarkable 
degree, all the tastes that fit one for the enjoyment of country 
life. He had a large and well selected library, particularly 
rich in its books relating to the Americas, and this library 
remains unbroken. With these true, tried, unwavering and 
unwearying friends — and such good books are — Mr. King spent 
much time ; varying, however, his studious labors with outdoor 
exercise on horseback, to which he was much addicted; and in 
judgment of the qualities, as well as in the graceful manage- 
ment of a horse, he was rarely excelled. He loved, too, his 
gun and dog ; was rather a keen sportsman, and good shot ; 
though often, when the pointer was hot upon the game, his 
master's attention would be diverted by some rare or beautiful 
shrub or flower upon which his eye happened to light, and of 
which — if not the proper season for transplanting it into his 
border- — he would carefully mark the place and make a memo- 
randum thereof, so as to be enabled to return at the fitting 
time, and secure his prize. In this way he had collected in 
his shrubberies all the pretty flowering shrubs and plants indi- 
genous to the neighborhood, adding thereto such strangers as 

KING. 361 

he could naturalize ; so that during a visit made to him many- 
years after he began his plantation, by the Abbe Correct,, then 
Minister from Portugal to this Government, but even more 
distinguished as a man of letters, and particularly as a bota- 
nist — the learned Abbe said he could almost study the Floivers 
and the Trees of the central and eastern portion of the United 
States in these grounds. Mr. King loved, too, the song of 
birds — and his taste was rewarded by the number of them 
which took shelter in this secure and shady plantation, where 
no guns were ever allowed to be fired, nor trap nor snare to be 
set. The garden and the farm also came in for their share of 
interest and attention ; and nowhere did care judiciously be- 
stowed, and expenditure wisely ordered, produce more sure or 
gratifying results. 

About the year 1817 Mr. King turned his attention to the 
importation of some cattle of the North Devon breed. In the 
preceding year he received as a token of a friendship contract- 
ed during his residence in England, from Mr. Coke of Holkham 
(the great English Commoner, and warm friend of America 
in the revolutionary contest, and always interested in what- 
ever might promote the welfare of the people in whose early 
struggle for their rights he had sympathized), two beautiful 
cows of the North Devon breed, as being particularly adapt- 
ed, as Mr. Coke supposed, to the light, level soil of the 
southern slope of Long Island, — similar in these qualities to 
that of his own magnificent domain at Holkham, in Norfolk. 
Mr. King was so much pleased with these animals, so beauti- 
ful in themselves, of a uniform mahogany color, with no white 
marks, finely limbed almost as deer, with regularly curved and 
tapering horns, of extreme docility, and easily kept, that in 


1817 he imported several more, and was thus enabled to pre- 
serve the race in purity, and measurably to supply the demand 
for the pure stock, which is now widely scattered throughout 
the country. 

While thus enjoying with the real zest of a cultivated mind, 
and of a disposition keenly alive to the aspect, the voices and the 
beauties of nature, the pleasures of a country life ; Mr. King was 
not unmindful of, nor indifferent to the great and interesting 
contemporaneous drama of politics, which, although mainly 
played out in Europe, swept our republic too at last into its vor- 
tex. His early training, early instruction, and early and eminent 
successes in public life, made it alike unsuitable and impos- 
sible for him to withdraw himself wholly from the scene. And 
accordingly, although never in the whole course of his life seek- 
ing office, or putting himself forward, Mr. King was frequent- 
ly appealed to, in his retirement, by political friends, some- 
times consulted by political opponents, — while he was in the 
habit of receiving with elegant and cordial hospitality at Ja- 
maica, distinguished visitors, both of his own country, and 
from abroad. Among such visitors was the Abbe Correa, as 
already stated, about the period when, as Secretary of State 
to President Monroe, John Quincy Adams was asserting in 
his correspondence with the English Minister the right of the 
United States to the free navigation of the St. Lawrence. 
After discussing with Mr King in the library, the points of in- 
ternational law brought up by this claim, — in the course of 
which, somewhat to the surprise of the Abbe, Mr. King evin- 
ced entire familiarity with the analogous points brought up 
and settled, as regards European rivers, in the then recently 
held Congress of Vienna ; and maintained the position, that 



what was law between states in Europe conterminous to 
great navigable streams, must be law here ; and that what 
Grreat Britain had assented to, and had joined in requiring 
others to assent to, in respect to the Khine, she must assent to 
in respect to the St. Lawrence, — the Abbe proposed a walk 
in the grounds, and once there, laying aside politics, diploma- 
cy, and international law, the two statesmen were soon very 
deep in botany and the system of Linnseus, and agriculture, 
and in all the cognate questions of climate, soils, manures, &c, 
and seemed quite as eager in these pursuits, as in those grave 
and more solemn questions of state policy, which occupy, but 
do not, in the same degree, innocently and surely reward the 
attention and interest of public men. It was on occasion of 
this visit, that the Abbe Correa expressed his gratification at 
finding in the plantation of Mr. King so large a collection of 
the plants and shrubs indigenous to that part of our country, 
— a gratification enhanced, as he added, by the previous dis- 
cussions in the library, in the course of which he had such de- 
monstration of Mr. King's varied and comprehensive, yet mi- 
nute knowledge of the great public questions which had agi- 
tated Europe, and of the more recent, as well as more ancient 
expositions of international law applicable thereto. 

Previously to this period, however, Mr. King had been 
recalled to public life. At the commencement of the war 
of 1812 with Great Britain, Mr. King, though disapproving 
both of the time of declaring, and of the inefficiency in con- 
ducting, the war, and reposing little confidence either in the 
motives or the abilities of the administration, did nevertheless 
feel it his duty, the sword being drawn, to sustain, as best he 
might, the cause of his country. Among the first, and for a 



time most discouraging results of the war, was the stoppage of 
specie payments by all the banks south of New England. The 
panic in New- York unavoidably was very great ; and very 
much depended upon the course to be taken by its banks and 
its citizens, as to the effect to be produced upon the national 
cause and the national arm, by the suspension of payments. 
In this emergency, appealed to by his former fellow-citizens, 
Mr. King went to the city, and at the Tontine Coffee House, 
at a general meeting called to deliberate on the course to be 
taken by the community in regard to the banks, and in gen- 
eral in regard to the rights and duties alike, of creditors and 
debtors under the circumstances, he made a speech to the as- 
sembled multitude, in which, after deploring the circumstances 
which had forced upon the banks the necessity of suspension, 
he went on to show that it was a common cause, in which all 
had a part, and where all had duties. That the extreme right 
of the bill-holder, if enforced to the uttermost against the 
banks, would aggravate the evil to the public, although possi- 
bly it might benefit a few individuals ; while, on the other 
hand, good to all, and strength and confidence to the general 
cause, would result from a generous forbearance, and mutual 
understanding that, if the banks on their part would restrict 
themselves within the limits as to issues and credits recognized 
as safe previous to the suspension, the community at large on 
their part, might, and possibly would continue to receive and 
pass the bills of the banks as before, and as though redeemable 
in coin. He urged with great power and earnestness the duty 
of fellow-citizens to stand shoulder to shoulder in such an 
emergency, — when a foreign enemy was pressing upon them, 
and when, without entering into the motives or causes which 



led to the war, about which men differ, — all Americans should 
feel it as their first and foremost obligation to stand by their 
country. The particular province of those he addressed was 
not so much to enlist in the armed service of the country, as 
to uphold its credit, and thus cherish the resources which would 
raise and reward armies ; and if New- York should on this 
occasion be true to her duty — which also he plainly showed to 
be her highest interest — the clouds of the present would pass 
away, and her honor and her prosperity, with those of the 
nation of which she formed part and parcel, would be main- 
tained and advanced. The effect of this address was decisive, 
and to an extent quite unprecedented in any commercial com- 
munity under such circumstances ; confidence was restored, 
and the course of business went on almost unruffled and un- 

In 1813, Mr. King, after a lapse of seventeen years from 
his former sendee as a Senator of the United States, was 
again chosen by the Legislature of the State of New- York, as 
one of its Senators in Congress ; and from the moment he re- 
sumed his seat in the Senate, he took leave, for the remainder 
of his life, of the undisturbed enjoyments of his rural abode ; 
for a large portion of his time was necessarily spent at Wash- 
ington, it being part of his notion of duty, never to be remiss 
in attendance upon, or in the discharge of, any trust committed 
to him. Still, his heart was among his plantations and his 
gardens, and even when absent, he kept up a constant corres- 
pondence with his son and his gardener, and always returned 
with fond zest to this quiet home. 

In 1819, Mrs. King, whose health had been long declining, 
died, and was buried with all simplicity in the yard of the village 


church, where together they long had worshipped, and which 
stood on ground originally forming part of Mr. King's property. 

At the time of her death, all the children had left the 
paternal roof, and settled in life with their own families around 
them ; and solitude, therefore, embittered the loss to Mr. King 
of such a companion. And she was eminently fitted by similarity 
of tastes and acquirements, to share with her husband the 
cares and the pleasures of life, as well as its weightier duties. 
She was in an especial manner a lover of the country, and had 
cultivated the knowledge which lends additional charms to the 
beauties and the wonders of the vegetable creation. Over all 
these beauties, her death cast a pall ; and although he repined 
not, it was easy to see how deep a sorrow overshadowed his re- 
maining years. Yet he nerved himself to the discharge of his 
public duties with unabated zeal and fidelity; and when 
re-elected in 1820 to the Senate, was punctual as always at 
his post, and earnest as ever in fulfilling all its requirements. 
His own health, however, before so unshaken, began to fail ; 
and at the closing session of 1825, Mr. King, in taking leave 
of the Senate, announced his purpose of retiring from public 
life ; having then reached the age of seventy years, of which 
more than one half had been spent in the service of his 
country, from the period when he entered the Continental 
Congress in 1784, to that in which he left the Senate of the 
United States in 1825. But John Q. Adams, who had become 
President, pressed upon Mr. King the embassy to England. 
His enfeebled health and advanced age induced him at once 
to decline, but Mr. Adams urged him to refrain from any imme- 
diate decision, and to take the subject into consideration after 
he should return home, and then determine. Kecalling with 



lively and pleasant recollection the years of his former embassy 
to England, and hoping assuredly to be able — if finding there 
the same fair and friendly reception before extended to him — to 
benefit his country by the adjustment of some outstanding and 
long-standing points of controversy between the two nations ; 
influenced too, in a great degree, by the opinion of eminent 
physicians, that for maladies partaking of weakness, such as he 
was laboring under, a sea-voyage could hardly fail to be bene- 
ficial, Mr. King, rather in opposition to the wishes of his family, 
determined to accept the mission, — first stipulating, however, 
that his eldest son, John A. King, should accompany him as 
Secretary of Legation. It is proof of the strong desire of 
the then administration to avail of Mr. King's talents and 
character, and of the hope of good from his employment in this 
mission, that an immediate compliance with this request was 
made ; and the gentleman who had been previously nominated 
to, and confirmed by, the Senate, as Secretary of Legation, 
having been commissioned elsewhere, Mr. John A. King was 
appointed Secretary of Legation to his father. 

The voyage, unhappily, aggravated rather than relieved the 
malady of Mr. King ; his health, after he reached England, 
continued to decline, and he therefore, after a few months' 
residence in London, asked leave to resign his post and come 
home. He returned accordingly, but only to die. He lan- 
guished for some weeks, and finally, having been removed from 
Jamaica to the city for greater convenience of attendance and 
care, he died in New- York, on the 29th of April, 1827. 

As with Mrs. King, so with him — in conformity with the 
unaffected simplicity of their whole lives — were the funeral rites 
at his death. Borne to Jamaica, which for more than twenty 


years had been his home, the body was carried to the grave 
by the neighbors among whom he had so long lived, — laid in 
the earth by the side of her who had gone before him, to be 
no more separated for ever ; and a simple stone at the head of 
his grave, records — and the loftiest monument of art could do 
no more — that a great and a good man, having finished his 
course in faith, there awaits the great Judgment. Children, 
and grandchildren, have since been gathered in death around 
these graves, which lie almost beneath the shadow of trees 
planted by Mr. King, and within sight of the house in which 
he lived. 

It was desired, if possible, to introduce a glhnpse>of the 
pretty village church into the engraving, but the space was 

Mr. John A. King, the eldest son of Eufus King, now 
occupies the residence of his father, and keeps up, with filial 
reverence and inherited taste, its fine library, and its fine plan- 
tations. The engraving presents very accurately the appear- 
ance of the house ; the closely shaven lawn in its front, and the 
noble trees which surround it, could find no. adequate repre- 
sentation in any picture. 


THE Dryads are plainly no American divinities. A rev- 
erence for trees and groves, for woods and forests, is not 
an American passion. As our fathers and many of ourselves 
have spent the best of our strength in wrestling with, pros- 
trating, using up the leaf-crowned monarchs, gray with the 
moss of age ere Columbus set foot on Cat Island, to expect 
us to love and honor their quiet majesty, their stately grace, 
were like asking Natty Bumpo or Leather-stocking to bow- 
down to and worship Pontiac or Brandt, as the highest ideal 
of Manhood. An uncouth backwoodsman lately stated our 
difficulty with immediate reference to another case, but the 


principle is identical : " When I was a boy/' said he, plain- 
tively, u it was the rule to love rum, and hate niggers ; now 
they want us to hate rum, and love niggers : For my part, I 
stick to the old discipline." And so it were unreasonable to 
expect the mass of Americans now living, to go into heroics 
over the prospect of a comely and comfortable mansion, sur- 
rounded by a spacious lawn or " opening " of luxuriant grass, 
embracing the roots and lightly shaded by the foliage of 
thrifty and shapely trees. 

Why is it, then, that the American's pulse beats quicker, 
and his heart throbs more proudly as, walking slowly and 
thoughtfully up a noble avenue that leads easterly from Lex- 
ington, — once the capital and still the most important inland 
town in Kentucky, — he finds the road terminating abruptly in 
front of a modest, spacious, agreeable mansion, only two sto- 
ries in height, and of no great architectural pretensions, and 
remembers who caused its erection, and was for many years its 
owner and master ? 

That house, that lawn, with the ample and fertile farm 
stretching a mile or more in the distance behind them, are 
hallowed to the hearts of his countrymen by the fact, that 
here lived and loved, enjoyed and suffered, aspired and endur- 
ed, the Orator, the Patriot, the Statesman, the illustrious, the 
gifted, the fiercely slandered, the fondly idolized Henry Clay. 

A friend who visited Ashland as a stranger in May, 1845, 
thus writes of the place and its master : 

" I have at last realized one of my dearest wishes, that of 
seeing Mr. Clay at Ashland. I called on him with a friend 
this morning, but he was absent on his farm, and Charles, his 
freed slave, told us he would not be at home till afternoon ; so 



we returned to Lexington, and, at five p. m., we retraced our 
steps to Ashland. Mr. Clay had returned ; and meeting us 
at the door, took hold of our hands before I could even pre- 
sent a letter of introduction, and made us welcome to his 
home. His manners completely overcame all the ceremonies 
of speech I had prepared. 'We were soon perfectly at home, 
as every one must be with Henry Clay, and in half an hour's 
time we had talked about the various sections of the country 
I had visited the past year, Mr. Clay occasionally giving us 
incidents and recollections of his own life ; and I felt as 
though I had known him personally for years. 

" Mr. Clay has lived at Ashland forty years. The place 
bore the name when he came to it, as he says, probably on ac- 
count of the ash timber, with which it abounds ; and he has 
made it the most delightful retreat in all the West. The es- 
tate is about six hundred acres large, all under the highest 
cultivation, except some two hundred acres of park, which is 
entirely cleared of underbrush and small trees, and is, to use 
the words of Lord Morpeth, who staid at Ashland nearly a 
week, the nearest approach to an English park of any in this 
country. It serves for a noble pasture, and here I saw some 
of Mr. Clay's fine horses and Durham cattle. He is said to 
have some of the finest in America ; and if I am able to judge 
I confirm that report. The larger part of his farm is devoted 
to wheat, rye, hemp, &c, and his crops look most splendidly. 
He has also paid great attention to ornamenting his land with 
beautiful shade trees, shrubs, flowers, and fruit orchards. 
From the road which passes his place on the northwest side, 
a carriage -road leads up to the house, lined with locust, cy- 
press, cedar, and other rare trees, and the rose, jasmine, and 


ivy, were clambering about them, and peeping through the 
grass and the boughs, like so many twinkling fairies, as we 
drove up. Mr Clay's mansion is nearly hidden from the road 
by the trees surrounding it, and is as quiet and secluded, save to 
the throng of pilgrims continually pouring up there to greet its 
more than royal possessor, as though it were in the wilderness." 

Here let the house, the lawn, the wood, the farm, pass, if 
they will, from the mind. They are all well in their way, and 
were doubtless well adapted in his time to smooth the care- 
worn brow, and soothe the care-fraught breast of the lofty, 
gallant, frank, winning statesman, who gave and still gives 
them all their interest. Be our thoughts concentrated on him 
who still lives, and speaks, and sways, though the clay which 
enrobed him has been hid from our sight for ever, rather than 
on the physical accessories which, but for him, though living 
to the corporal sense, are dead to the informing soul. 

For it was not here, in this comfortable mansion, beneath 
those graceful, hospitable, swaying trees, that The Great 
Commoner was born and reared ; but in a rude, homely farm- 
house,""' which had any man given five hundred dollars for, he 
would have been enormously swindled, unless he paid in Con- 
tinental money, — in a primitive, rural, thinly peopled section 
of Hanover County (near Richmond), Virginia ; where his 
father, Rev. John Clay, a poor Baptist preacher, lived, and 
struggled, and finally died, leaving a widow and seven young 
children, with no reliance but the mother's energies and the 
benignant care of the widow's and orphan's God. This was 
in 1782, near the close of the Revolutionary War, when so 
much of the country as had not been ravaged by the enemy's 

* See vignette title-page to this volume. 



forces, had been nearly exhausted by our own, and by the 
incessant exactions of a protracted, harassing, desolating, 
industry-paralyzing civil war. The fifth of these seven children 
was Henry, born on the 12th of April, 1777, who remained in 
that humble home until fourteen years of age, when his mother, 
who had married a second time, being about to remove to 
Kentucky, placed him in a store at Eichmond, under the eye 
of his oldest brother, then nearly or quite of age, but who died 
very soon afterwards, leaving Henry an orphan indeed. He 
was thus thrown completely on his own exertions, when still 
but a child, and without having enjoyed any other educational 
advantages than such as were fitfully afforded by occasional 
private schools, in operation perhaps two or three months in 
a year, and kept by teachers somewhat ruder than the log 
tenement which circumscribed their labors. Such was all the 
" schooling" ever enjoyed by the ragged urchin, whose bright 
summer days were necessarily given to ploughing and hoeing in 
the corn-fields, barefoot, bareheaded, and clad in coarse trow- 
sers and shirt, and whose daily tasks were diversified by frequent 
rides of two or three miles to the nearest grist-mill, on a sorry 
cob, bestrode with no other saddle than the grain-bag ; whence 
many of his childhood's neighbors, contrasting, long afterward, 
the figure he cut in Congress, at Ghent, in Paris or London, 
with that which they had seen so often pass in scanty garb, 
but jocund spirits, on these family errands, recalled him to 
mind in his primitive occupation as The Mill-Boy of the Slash- 
es, by which sobriquet he was fondly hailed by thousands in 
the pride of his ripened renown. 

Forty-five years after his childish farewell to it, Henry 
Clay stood once more (in 1840), and for the last time, in the 


humble home of his fathers, and was rejoiced to find the house 
where he was horn and reared, still essentially unchanged. 
Venerable grandames, who were blooming matrons in his in- 
fancy, had long since indicated to their sons and daughters the 
room wherein he was born ; and the spring whence the family 
had drawn their supplies of water wore a familiar aspect, though 
the hickory which formerly shaded it, and was noted for the 
excellence of its nuts, had passed away. Over the graves of 
his father and grandparents the plough had passed and repassed 
for years, and he only fixed their position by the decaying 
stump of a pear-tree, which had flourished in his childhood, 
and often ministered to his gratification. Beyond these, nothing 
answered to the picture in his memory, and he would not have 
recognized the spot, had he awoke there unconscious of the 
preceding journey. Familiar groves and orchards had passed 
away, while pines which he left shrubs, just dotting with pe- 
rennial green the surface of the exhausted " old fields/' unhap- 
pily too common throughout the Southern States, had grown 
up into dense and towering forests, which waved him a stately 
adieu, as he turned back refreshed and calmed, to the heated 
and dusty highway of public life. 

The boy Henry, spent five years in Kichmond, — only the 
first in the store where his mother had placed him ; three of 
the others in the office of Mr. Clerk-in- Chancery Peter Tinsley ; 
the last in that of Attorney-General Brooke. From Mr. Tins- 
ley, he learned to write a remarkably plain, neat, and elegant 
hand, — more like a schoolmistress's best, than a great lawyer 
and politician, and this characteristic it retained to the las 
From Mr. Tinsley, Mr. Brooke, and perhaps still more from 
the illustrious Chancellor Wythe, who employed him as his 



amanuensis, and repaid him with his friendship and counsel, 
young Clay derived his knowledge of the principles of Common 
Law, whereof he was, all his life, a devoted champion. At 
length, in November, 1797, when still lacking some months 
of his legal majority, he left Richmond and Virginia, for the 
location he had chosen — namely, the thriving village of Lex- 
ington, in the then rapidly growing Territory of Kentucky — 
the home of his eventful adult life of more than half a century. 
How he here was early recognized and honored as a Man of 
the People, and rapidly chosen (1803) member of the Legisla- 
ture, once (1806) appointed to fill a vacancy in the United 
States Senate, and soon after (1809) elected out of, and by 
the legislature, to fill another and longer vacancy in that 
same dignified body ; chosen in 1811 a Member of the more 
popular branch of Congress, and, immediately on his appear- 
ance on its floor, elected its Speaker — probably the highest 
compliment ever paid to a public man in this country — ap- 
pointed thence (1814) a Plenipotentiary to Gottingen (after- 
wards changed to Ghent), to negotiate a Treaty of Peace with 
Great Britain, which was signed near the close of that year ; 
re-elected, immediately on his return, to a seat in the House, 
and to the Speakership, which he retained thenceforth (except 
during a temporary retirement from public life, rendered neces- 
sary by heavy pecuniary losses as an indorser), down to March 
3d, 1825, when he finally retired from the House on being 
appointed Secretary of State by President John Q. Adams ; 
quitting this station for private life on the Inauguration of 
President Jackson in 1829, returning to the Senate in 1831, 
and continuing one of its most eminent and influential mem- 
bers till 1842, when he retired, as he supposed for ever ; but 


was returned, by an unanimous vote of the Legislature, in 
1849, and dying a Senator in Washington on the 29th of June, 
1852, aged more than seventy-five years, of which more than 
half had been spent in the public service, and nearly all, since 
his majority, in active, ardent, anxious familiarity with public 
men and public measures, — this is no place to set forth in 
detail. The merest glance is all we can give to the public, 
official career of Henry Clay. 

For our business is not here with Tariffs, Banks, Vetoes, 
and Presidential contests or aspirations. Our theme is the 
man Henry Clay, — what he was intrinsically, and in his daily 
dealings with, and deportment toward, his fellow-beings. If 
there be a better mode of developing his character than Plu- 
tarch's, we have not now time to ascertain and employ it, so 
we must e'en be content with that. 

A tall, plain, poor, friendless youth, was young Henry, 
when he set up his Ebenezer in Lexington, and, after a few 
months' preliminary study, announced himself a candidate for 
practice as an attorney. He had not even the means of paying 
his weekly board. " I remember," he observed in his Lexing- 
ton speech of 1842, "how comfortable I thought I should be, 
if I could make £100 Virginia money, per year ; and with 
what delight I received my first fifteen shilling fee. My hopes 
were more than realized. I immediately rushed into a lucrative 

Local tradition affirms that the Bar of Lexington, being 
unusually strong when Mr. Clay first appeared thereat, an 
understanding had grown up among the seniors, that they 
would systematically discountenance the advent of any new 
aspirants, so as to keep the business remunerating, and pre- 



serve each other from the peril of being starved out. It was 
some time, therefore, before young Clay obtained a case to 
manage in Court ; and when he did appear there, the old heads 
greeted the outset of his argument with winks, and nods, and 
meaning smiles, and titters, intended to disconcert and embar- 
rass him. So they did for a few minutes ; but they soon exas- 
perated and roused him. His eyes flashed, and sentence after 
sentence came pouring rapidly out, replete with the fire of 
eloquence and genius. At length, one of the old heads leaned 
across the table and whispered to another, " I think ive must 
let this young man pass." Of course they must ! — the case 
was as plain as the portliest of noses on the most rubicund of 
faces. Henry Clay passed, nem. con., and his position and 
success at that Bar were never more disputed nor doubted. 

General Cass, in his remarks in the Senate on the occasion 
of Mr. Clay's death, has the following interesting reminiscence : 

" It is almost half a century since he passed through Chili- 
cothe, then the seat of government of Ohio, where I was a 
member of the Legislature, on his way to take his place in this 
very body, which is now listening to this reminiscence, and to 
a feeble tribute of regard from one who then saw him for the 
first time, but who can never forget the impression he produced 
by the charms of his conversation, the frankness of his manner, 
and the high qualities with which he was endowed/' 

That an untaught, portionless rustic, reared not only in one 
of the rudest localities, but in the most troublous and critical 
era of our country, when the general poverty and insecurity 
rendered any attention to personal culture difficult, almost 
impossible, and graduating from a log school-house, should have 
been celebrated for the union in his manners, of grace with 



frankness, ease with fascination, is not unworthy of remark. 
Of the fact, those who never knew Mr. Clay personally, may 
have abundant attestations, which none others will need. 

While in Europe as a negotiator for Peace with Great 
Britain, Mr. Clay was brought into immediate and familiar 
contact, not only with his associates, the urbane and cultivated 
John Quincy Adams, whose life had been divided between 
seminaries and courts ; the philosophic Gallatin and the 
chivalric Bayard, but also with the noble and aristocratic 
Commissioners of Great Britain, and with many others of like 
breeding and position, to whom the importance of their mission, 
its protracted labors and its successful result, commended our 
Plenipotentiaries. A single anecdote will illustrate the im- 
pression he every where produced. An octogenarian British 
Earl, who had retired from public life because of his years, but 
who still cherished a natural interest in public men and meas- 
ures, being struck by the impression made in the aristocratic 
circles of London by the American Commissioners, then on 
their way home from Ghent, requested a friend to bring them 
to see him at his house, to which his growing infirmities con- 
fined him. The visit was promptly and cheerfully paid, and 
the obliging friend afterwards inquired of the old Lord as to 
the impression the Americans had made upon him. " Ah ! " 
said the veteran, with the u light of other days" gleaming from 
his eyes, " I liked them all, but / liked the Kentucky man best!' 
It was so every where. 

Qne specimen has been preserved of Mr. Clay's felicity of 
repartee and charm of conversation, as exhibited while in 
Paris, immediately after the conclusion of Peace at Ghent. 
He was there introduced to the famous Madame de Stael, 



who cordially addressed him with — " Ah, Mr. Clay ! I have 
been in England, and have been battling your cause for you 
there/' " I know it, madame ; we heard of your powerful 
interposition, and are grateful and thankful for it." " They 
were much enraged against you," said she : "so much so, that 
they at one time thought seriously of sending the Duke of 
Wellington to command their armies against you ! " "I am 
very sorry, madame," replied Mr. Clay, " that they did not 
send his Grace." " Why ? " asked she, surprised. " Because, 
madame, if he had beaten us, we should have been in the con- 
dition of Europe, without disgrace. But, if we had been so 
fortunate as to defeat him, we should have greatly added to 
the renown of our arms." 

At his next meeting with " Corinne," at her own house, 
Mr. Clay was introduced by her to the conqueror at Waterloo, 
when she related the above conversation. The Duke promptly 
responded that, had it been his fortune to serve against the 
Americans, and to triumph over them, he should indeed have 
regarded that triumph as the proudest of his achievements. 

Mr. Clay was in London when the tidings of Waterloo 
arrived, and set the British frantic with exultation. He was 
dining one day at Lord Castlereagh's, while Bonaparte's po- 
sition was still uncertain, as he had disappeared from Paris, 
and fled none knew whither. The most probable conjecture 
was that he had embarked at some little port for the United 
States, and would probably make his way thither, as he was 
always lucky on water. " If he reaches your shores, Mr. 
Clay," gravely inquired Lord Liverpool (one of the Ministers), 
" will he not give you a great deal of trouble ? " " Not the 
least," was the prompt reply of the Kentuckian ; "we shall 


be very glad to receive him ; to treat him with all hospitality, 
and very soon make him a good democrat." A general laugh 
here restored the hilarity of the party. 

The magnetism of Mr. Clay's manner and conversation 
have perhaps received no stronger testimony than that of Gen. 
Glascock, a political antagonist, who came into Congress from 
Georgia, during the fierce struggle which followed the removal 
of the Deposits. " Gen. Glascock/' said a mutual friend, at 
a party one evening, " shall I make you acquainted with Mr. 
Clay ? " " No, Sir ! " was the prompt and stern response ; 
" I choose not to be fascinated and moulded by him, as friend 
and foe appear to be, and I shall therefore decline his ac- 

Mr. Clay had a natural repugnance to caucuses, con- 
ventions, and the kindred contrivances whereby great men are 
elaborated out of very small materials, and was uniformly a 
candidate for Congress " on his own hook," with no fence be- 
tween him and his constituents. Only once in the course of 
his long Kepresentative career was he obliged to canvass for 
his election, and he was never defeated, nor ever could be, be- 
fore a public that he could personally meet and address. The 
one searching ordeal to which he was subjected, followed the 
passage of the "Compensation Act" of 1816, whereby Con- 
gress substituted for its own per diem a fixed salary of $1,500 
to each Member. This act raised a storm throughout the 
country, which prostrated most of its supporters. The hos- 
tility excited was especially strong in the West, then very 
poor, especially in money : $1,500 then, being equal to $4000 
at present. John Pope (afterward Gen. Jackson's Governor 
of Arkansas), one of the ablest men in Kentucky, a federalist 

CLAY. 383 

of the old school, and a personal antagonist of Mr. Clay, took 
the stump as his competitor for the seat, and gave him enough 
to do through the canvass. They met in discussion at several 
local assemblages, and finally in a pitched battle at Higbie ; 
a place central to the three counties composing the district, 
where the whole people collected to hear them. Pope had the 
district with him in his denunciation of the Compensation 
Bill, while Clay retorted with effect, by pressing home on his 
antagonist the embittered and not very consistent hostility of 
the latter to the war with Great Britain, recently concluded, 
which uniformly had been very popular in Kentucky. The 
result was decisive : Mr. Clay was re-elected by about six 
hundred majority. 

That excited canvass was fruitful of characteristic inci- 
dents like the following : 

While traversing the district, Mr. Clay encountered an 
old hunter, who had always before been his warm friend, but 
was now opposed to his re-election on account of the Com- 
pensation Bill. " Have you a good rifle, my friend ? " asked 
Mr. Clay. « Yes." " Did it ever flash ? " " Once only," 
he replied. " What did you do with it — throw it away ? " 
" No, I picked the flint, tried it again, and brought down the 
game." " Have / ever flashed but upon the Compensation 
Bill ? " " No !" " Will you throw me away ?" " No, no ! " 
exclaimed the hunter with enthusiasm, nearly overpowered by 
his feelings ; "I will pick the flint, and try you again ! " 
He was afterward a warm supporter of Mr. Clay. 

An Irish barber in Lexington, Jerry Murphy by name, 
who had always before been a zealous admirer and active sup- 
porter of Mr. Clay, was observed during this canvass to main- 


tain a studied silence. That silence was ominous, especially 
as lie was known to be under personal obligation to Mr. Clay 
for legal assistance to rescue him from various difficulties in 
which his hasty temper had involved him. At length, an 
active and prominent partisan of the speaker called on the bar- 
ber, with whom he had great influence, and pressed him to dis- 
pel the doubt that hung over his intentions by a frank declara- 
tion in favor of his old favorite. Looking his canvasser in the 
eye, with equal earnestness and shrewdness, Murphy respond- 
ed ; "I tell you what, docthur ; I mane to vote for the man 
that can put but one hand into the Treasury." (Mr. Pope had 
lost one of his arms in early life, and the humor of Pat's al- 
lusion to this circumstance, in connection with Mr. Clay's sup- 
port of the Compensation Bill, was inimitable.) 

Mr. Clay was confessedly the best presiding officer that 
any deliberative body in America has ever known, and none 
was ever more severely tried. The intensity and bitterness 
of party feeling during the earlier portion of his Speakership 
cannot now be realized except by the few who remember those 
days. It was common at that time in New England town- 
meetings, for the rival parties to take opposite sides of the 
broad aisle in the meetinghouse, and thus remain, hardly 
speaking across the line separation, from morning till night. 
Hon. Josiah Quincy, the Representative of Boston, was dis- 
tinguished in Congress for the ferocity of his assaults on the 
policy of Jefferson and Madison ; and between him and Mr. 
Clay there were frequent and sharp encounters, barely kept 
within the limits prescribed by parliamentary decorum. At a 
later period, the eccentric and distinguished John Randolph, 
the master of satire and invective ; and who, though not 



avowedly a Federalist, opposed nearly every act of the Demo- 
crat Administrations of 1801-16, and was the unfailing an- 
tagonist of every measure proposed or supported by Mr. Clay, 
was a thorn in the side of the Speaker for years. Many were 
the passages between them in which blows were given and 
taken, whereof the gloves of parliamentary etiquette could not 
break the force : the War, the Tariff, the early recognition of 
Greek and South American Independence, the Missouri Com- 
promise, &c. &c., being strenuously advocated by Mr. Clay 
and opposed by Mr. Randolph. But of these this is no place 
to speak. Innumerable appeals from Mr. Clay's decisions, as 
Speaker, were made by the orator of Koanoke, but no one of 
them was ever sustained by the House. At length, after Mr. 
Clay had left Congress, and Mr. Kandolph been transferred to 
the Senate, a bloodless duel between them grew out of the 
Virginian's unmeasured abuse of the Kentuckian's agency in 
electing J. Q. Adams to the Presidency ; a duel which seems 
to have had the effect of softening, if not dissipating Ran- 
dolph's rancor against Mr. Clay. Though evermore a political 
antagonist, his personal antipathy was no longer manifested ; 
and one of the last visits of Randolph to the Capitol, when 
dying of consumption, was made for the avowed purpose of 
hearing in the Senate the well-known voice of the eloquent 
Sage of Ashland. 

On the floor of the House, Mr. Clay was often impetuous 
in discussion, and delighted to relieve the tedium of debate, 
and modify the sternness of antagonism by a sportive jest or 
lively repartee. On one occasion, Gen. Alexander Smythe of 
Virginia, who often afflicted the House by the verbosity of his 
harangues and the multiplicity of his dry citations, had paused 



in the middle of a speech which seemed likely to endure for 
ever, to send to the library for a book from which he wished 
to note a passage. Fixing his eye on Mr. Clay, who sat near 
him, he observed the Kentuckian writhing in his seat as if his 
patience had already been exhausted. " You, sir/' remarked 
Smythe addressing the Speaker, "speak for the present genera- 
tion ; but I speak for posterity." " Yes," said Mr. Clay, "and 
you seem resolved to speak until the arrival of your auditory." 

Kevolutionary pensions were a source of frequent passages 
between eastern and western members ; the greater portion 
of those pensions being payable to eastern survivors of the 
struggle. On one occasion when a Pension Bill was under 
discussion, Hon. Enoch Lincoln (afterwards Governor of 
Maine) was dilating on the services and sufferings of these 
veterans, and closed with the patriotic adjuration, " Soldiers 
of the Revolution ! live for ever ! " Mr. Clay followed, coun- 
selling moderation in the grant of pensions, that the country 
might not be overloaded and rendered restive by their burden, 
and turning to Mr. Lincoln with a smile, observed — " I hope 
my worthy friend will not insist on the very great duration of 
these pensions which he has suggested. Will he not consent, 
by way of a compromise, to a term of nine hundred and ninety- 
nine years instead of eternity ? " 

A few sentences culled from the remarks in Congress 
elicited by his death, will fitly close this hasty daguerreotype of 
the man Henry Clay. 

Mr. Underwood (his colleague) observed in Senate that 
" his physical and mental organization eminently qualified him 
to become a great and impressive orator. His person was tall, 
slender and commanding. His temperament, ardent, fearless, 

C L A Y. 


and full of hope. His countenance, clear, expressive, and va- 
riable — indicating the emotion which predominated at the 
moment with exact similitude. His voice, cultivated and 
modulated in harmony with the sentiment he desired to ex- 
press, fell upon the ear with the melody of enrapturing music. 
His eye beaming with intelligence and flashing with corusca- 
tions of genius. His gestures and attitudes graceful and 
natural. These personal advantages won the prepossessions of 
an audience even before his intellectual powers began to move 
his hearers ; and when his strong common sense, his profound 
reasoning, his clear conceptions of his subject in all its bear- 
ings, and his striking and beautiful illustrations, united with 
such personal qualities, were brought to the discussion of any 
question, his audience was enraptured, convinced and led by 
the orator as if enchanted by the lyre of Orpheus. 

" No man was ever blessed by his Creator with faculties of 
a higher order than Mr. Clay. In the quickness of his percep- 
tions, and the rapidity with which his conclusions were formed, 
he had few equals and no superiors. He was eminently en- 
dowed with a nice discriminating taste for order, symmetry, 
and beauty. He detected in a moment every thing out of 
place or deficient in his room, upon his farm, in his own or the 
dress of others. He was a skilful judge of the form and 
qualities of his domestic animals, which he delighted to raise 
on his farm. I could give you instances of the quickness and 
minuteness of his keen faculty of observation, which never 
overlooked any thing. A want of neatness and order was of- 
fensive to him. He was particular and neat in his handwrit- 
ing and his apparel. A slovenly blot or negligence of any 


sort met his condemnation ; while he was so organized that 
he attended to, and arranged little things to please and gratify 
his natural love for neatness, order, and beauty, his great in- 
tellectual faculties grasped all the subjects of jurisprudence 
and politics with a facility amounting almost to intuition. As 
a lawyer, he stood at the head of his profession. As a states- 
man, his stand at the head of the Republican Whig party for 
nearly half a century, establishes his title to pre-eminence 
among his illustrious associates. 

" Mr. Clay was deeply versed in all the springs of human 
action. He had read and studied biography and history. 
Shortly after I left college, I had occasion to call on him in 
Frankfort, where he was attending court, and well I remember 
to have found him with Plutarch's Lives in his hands. No 
one better than he knew how to avail himself of human 
motives, and all the circumstances which surrounded a subject, 
or could present themselves with more force and skill to ac- 
complish the object of an argument." 

" Bold and determined as Mr. Clay was in all his actions, he 
was, nevertheless, conciliating. He did not obstinately adhere 
to things impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, 
he contented himself with the nighest approach to it. He has 
been the great compromiser of those political agitations and 
opposing opinions which have, in the belief of thousands, at 
different times, endangered the perpetuity of our Federal Gov- 
ernment and Union. 

" Mr. Clay was no less remarkable for his admirable social 
qualities, than for his intellectual abilities. As a companion, 
he was the delight of his friends ; and no man ever had better 



or truer. No guest ever thence departed, without feeling 
happier for his visit." 

Mr. Hunter of Virginia (a political antagonist) following, 
observed : " It ma}' be truly said of Mr. Clay, that he was 
no exaggerator. He looked at events through neither end of 
the telescope, but surveyed them with the natural and the 
naked eye. He had the capacity of seeing things as the people 
saw them, and of feeling things as the people felt them. He 
had, sir, beyond any other man whom I have ever seen, the 
true mesmeric touch of the orator, — the rare art of transferring 
his impulses to others. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, came 
from the ready mould of his genius, radiant and glowing, and 
communicated their own warmth to every heart which received 
them. His, too, was the power of wielding the higher and 
intenser forms of passion, with a majesty and an ease, which 
none but the great masters of the human heart can ever 

Mr. Seward of New- York, said : "He was indeed eloquent 
— all the world knows that. He held the key to the hearts of 
his countrymen, and he turned the wards within them with a 
skill attained by no other master. 

" But eloquence was nevertheless only an instrument, and 
one of many, that he used. His conversation, his gestures, 
his very look, were magisterial, persuasive, seductive, irresistible. 
And his appliance of all these was courteous, patient, and in- 
defatigable. Defeat only inspired him with new resolution. 
He divided opposition by the assiduity of address, while he 
rallied and strengthened his own bands of supporters by the 
confidence of success, which, feeling himself, he easily inspired 


among his followers. His affections were high, and pure, and 
generous, and the chiefest among them was that one which the 
great Italian poet designated as the charity of native land. 
In him, that charity was an enduring and overpowering enthu- 
siasm, and it influenced all his sentiments and conduct, render- 
ing him more impartial between conflicting interests and 
sections, than any other statesman who has lived since the 
Revolution. Thus, with great versatility of talent, and the 
most catholic equality of favor, he identified every question, 
whether of domestic administration or foreign policy, with his 
own great name, and so became a perpetual Tribune of the 
People. He needed only to pronounce in favor of a measure 
or against it, here, and immediately popular enthusiasm, excited 
as by a magic wand, was felt, overcoming and dissolving all 
opposition in the Senate Chamber." 

In the House, about the same time, Mr. Breckenridge of 
Kentucky (democrat), spoke as follows : 

" The life of Mr. Clay, sir, is a striking example of the 
abiding fame which surely awaits the direct and candid states- 
man. The entire absence of equivocation or disguise in all 
his acts, was his master-key to the popular heart ; for while 
the people will forgive the errors of a bold and open nature, 
he sins past forgiveness who deliberately deceives them. Hence 
Mr. Clay, though often defeated in his measures of policy, 
always secured the respect of his opponents without losing the 
confidence of his friends. He never paltered in a double sense. 
The country never was in doubt as to his opinions or his 
purposes. In all the contests of his time, his position on great 
public questions was as clear as the sun in the cloudless sky. 



Sir, standing by the grave of this great man, and considering 
these things, how contemptible does appear the mere legerde- 
main of politics ! What a reproach is his life on that false 
policy which would trifle with a great and upright people ! 
If I were to write his epitaph, I would inscribe as the highest 
eulogy, on the stone which shall mark his resting-place, ' Here 
lies a man who was in the public service for fifty years, and 
never attempted to deceive his countrymen/ " 

Let me close this too hasty and superficial sketch, with a 
brief citation from Kev. C. M. Butler, Chaplain of the Senate, 
who, in his funeral discourse in the Senate Chamber, said : 

" A great mind, a great heart, a great orator, a great career, 
have been consigned to history. She will record his rare gifts 
of deep insight, keen discrimination, clear statement, rapid 
combination, plain, direct, and convincing logic. She will 
love to dwell on that large, generous, magnanimous, open, 
forgiving heart. She will linger with fond delight on the 
recorded or traditional stories of an eloquence that was so 
masterful and stirring, because it was but himself struggling 
to come forth on the living words — because, though the words 
were brave and strong, and beautiful and melodious, it was 
felt that, behind them, there was a soul braver, stronger, more 
beautiful, and more melodious, than language could express." 

Such was the master of Ashland, the man Henry Clay ! 

After this article was in type, we received from a Western 
paper the following notice of the sale of the Ashland estate. 
" We are glad to learn that Ashland, the home of Henry 


Clay, which was sold September 20th, at public auction, was 
purchased by James B. Clay, eldest son of the deceased states- 
man. The Ashland homestead contained about 337 acres. It 
lies just without the limits of the city of Lexington. The coun- 
try immediately surrounding it, is justly regarded as the garden 
spot of the West, and Ashland, above all others, as the most 
beautiful place in the world. The associations about it are of 
the most interesting character. When Kentucky was, in fact, 
the ( dark and bloody ground/ the country around Lexington 
was the only oasis — every where else, the tomahawk and the 
rifle were more potent than laws. How many incidents of 
these terrible days are garnered in the minds of the descend- 
ants of the old families of Kentucky ! In those thrilling days, 
Ashland belonged to Daniel Boone, whose name is connected 
with many of the daring tragedies enacted in the then Far 
West. It passed from his hands into those of Nathaniel 
Hart, who fell, gloriously fighting, in the battle at the Eiver 
Kaisin, where so many Kentuckians offered up their lives in 
defence of their country. Henry Clay married Lucretia Hart, 
to whom the demesne of Ashland descended. 

u There is so much of the Arab in the habits of the Ameri- 
cans, — there is so much migratoriness, and so little love for 
old homesteads, — we were afraid the children of Henry Clay 
would allow classic Ashland to pass into other and alien hands. 
But our fears are to gladness changed ; and Ashland is still 
the dwelling-place of the Clays. 

" Mr. Clay was thoroughly versed in agricultural matters, and 
was never better contented (as the editor of the Ohio Journal 
truly remarks), than when surrounded by his neighbors, many 



of whom knew and loved him when he was quite young and 
obscure, and afterwards rejoiced at his fame, and followed his 
fortunes through every phase of a long and eventful career. 
The residence does not present any imposing appearance, but is 
of a plain, neat, and rather antique architectural character, and 
the grounds immediately surrounding it are beautifully adorned, 
and traversed by walks ; not in accordance with the foolish 
and fastidious taste of the present day, for this, in every thing 
connected with the place has been neglected, and the only end 
seems to have been to represent Nature in its proudest and 
most imposing grandeur. Many of the walks are retired, and 
are of a serpentine character, with here and there, in some se- 
cluded spot along their windings, a rude and unpolished bench 
upon which to recline. The trees are mostly pines of a large 
growth, and stand close together, casting a deep and sombre 
shade on every surrounding object. The reflections of one on 
visiting Ashland are of the most interesting character. Every 
object seems invested with an interest, and although the spirit 
with whose memory they are associated, has fled, one cannot 
repel the conviction, that while reposing under its silent and 
sequestered shades, he is still surrounded by something sublime 
and great. Old memories of the past come back upon him, 
and a thousand scenes connected with the life and history of 
Henry Clay, will will force themselves upon you. The great 
monarchs of the forest that now stretch their limbs aloft in 
proud and peerless majesty, have all, or nearly all been planted 
by his hand, and are now not unfit emblems of the towering 
greatness of him who planted them. 

" The walks, the flowers, the garden and the groves, all, all 


are consecrated, and have all been witnesses of his presence 
and his care. In the groves through which you wander, were 
nursed the mighty schemes of Statesmanship, which have as- 
tonished the world and terrified the tyrant, beat back the evil 
counsels for his country's ruin, and bound and fettered his 
countrymen in one common and indissoluble bond of Union." 



^ N 


i 5 



i 1 U t 

a 4 

Call} flint. 


IN writing the lives of our American Statesmen, we might 
say of almost any of them, "that he was born in such a 
year, that he was sent to the common school or to college, that 
he studied law, that he was chosen, first a member of the 
State Legislature, and thne of the National Congress, that he 
became successively, a Senator, a foreign Ambassador, a Secre- 
tary of State, or a President, and that finally he retired to his 
paternal acres, to pass a venerable old age, amid the general 
respect and admiration of the whole country/' This would 
be a true outline in the main, of the practical workings and 
doings of nine out of ten of them : but in filling in the de- 
tails of the sketch, in clothing the dry skeleton of facts with 
the flesh and blood of the living reality, it would be found 
that this apparent similarity of development had given rise to 
the utmost diversity and individuality of character, and that 
scarcely any two of our distinguished men, though born and 
bred under the same influence, bore even a family resemblance. 
It is said by the foreign writers, by De Tocqueville especially, 
that very little originality and independence of mind can be 
expected in a democracy, where the force of the majority 
crushes all opinions and characters into a dead and leaden 


uniformity. But the study of our actual history rather tends 
to the opposite conclusion, and leads us to believe that the 
land of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, the 
Adamses, Clay, Webster and Calhoun, is favorable to the pro- 
duction of distinct, peculiar, and decided natures. At least 
we may be sure, that our annals are no more wanting than 
those of other nations, in original, self-formed, and self-depend- 
ent men. 

Among these, there was no one more peculiar or more un- 
like any prototype, than John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina. 
In the structure of his mind, in the singular tenacity of his 
purposes, in the rare dignity and elevation of his character, 
and in the remarkable political system to which he adhered, 
he was wholly sui generis, standing out from the number of 
his forerunners and contemporaries in bold, positive and angu- 
lar relief. He could only have been what he was, in the 
country, and during the times, in which he flourished : he was 
a natural growth of our American society and institutions : 
had formed himself by no models ancient or modern ; and the 
great leading principles of his thought faithfully rendered in 
all Ins conduct, were as much an individual possession as the 
figure of his body or the features of his face. In seeing him, in 
hearing him speak, or in reading his books, no one was ever 
likely to confound him with any second person. 

Mr. Calhoun was born in the Abbeville District of South 
Carolina, on the 18th of March, 1782. His parents on both 
sides were of Irish extraction, who had first settled in Penn- 
sylvania, and then in Virginia, § whence they were driven by 
the Indians, at the time of Braddock' s defeat, to South Caro- 
lina. The father appears to have been a man of the most 



resolute and energetic character, equally ready to defend his 
home against the incursions of the savages, and his rights as a 
citizen against legislative encroachments. On one occasion, 
he and his neighbors went down to within thirty miles of 
Charleston, armed, to assert a right of suffrage which was 
then disputed ; and he always steadily opposed the Federal 
Constitution, because it allowed other people than those of 
South Carolina to tax the people of South Carolina. " We 
have heard his son say/' writes a friend of the latter, " that 
among his earliest recollections was one of a conversation when 
he was nine years of age, in which his father maintained that 
government to be best, which allowed the largest amount of 
individual liberty compatible with social order and tranquillity, 
and insisted that the improvements in political science would 
be found to consist in throwing off many of the restraints then 
imposed by law, and deemed necessary to an organized society. 
It may well be supposed that his son John was an attentive 
and eager auditor, and such lessons as these must doubtless 
have served to encourage that free spirit of inquiry, and that 
intrepid zeal for truth, for which he has been since so distin- 
guished. The mode of thinking which was thus encouraged 
may, perhaps, have compensated in some degree the want of 
those early advantages which are generally deemed indispen- 
sable to great intellectual progress. Of these he had compara- 
tively few. But this was compensated by those natural gifts 
which give great minds the mastery over difficulties which the 
timid regard as insuperable. Indeed, we have here another 
of those rare instances in which the hardiness of natural gen- 
ius is seen to defy all obstacles, and developes its flower and 
matures its fruit under circumstances apparently the most un- 


" The region of the country in which his family resided was 
then newly settled, and in a rude frontier State. There was 
not an academy in all the upper part of the State, and none 
within fifty miles, except one at about that distance in Colum- 
bia county, Georgia, which was kept by his brother-in-law, 
Mr. Waddell, a Presbyterian clergyman. There were but a 
few scattered schools in the whole of that region, and these 
were such as are usually found on the frontier, in which read- 
ing, writing and arithmetic were imperfectly taught. At the 
age of thirteen he was placed under the charge of his brother- 
in-law to receive his education. Shortly after, his father died ; 
this was followed by the death of his sister, Mrs. Waddell, 
within a few weeks, and the academy was then discontinued, 
which suspended his education before it had fairly commenced. 
His brother-in-law, with whom he was still left, was absent 
the greater part of the time, attending to his clerical duties, 
and his pupil thus found himself on a secluded plantation, 
without any white companion during the greater portion of the 
time. A situation apparently so unfavorable to improvement 
turned out, in his case, to be the reverse. Fortunately for 
him, there was a small circulating library in the house, of 
which his brother-in-law was librarian, and, in the absence of 
all company and amusements, that attracted his attention. 
His taste, although undirected, led him to history, to the ne- 
glect of novels and other lighter reading ; and so deeply was he 
interested, that in a short time he read the whole of the small 
stock of historical works, contained in the library, consisting 
of Rollin's Ancient History, Robertson's Charles V., his South 
America, and Voltaire's Charles XII. After dispatching 
these, he turned with like eagerness to Cook's Voyages (the 
large edition), a small volume of essays by Brown, and Locke 



on the Understanding, which he read as far as the chapter on 
Infinity. All this was the work of but fourteen weeks. 80 
intense was his application that his eyes became seriously af- 
fected, his countenance pallid, and his frame emaciated. His 
mother, alarmed at the intelligence of his health, sent for him 
home, where exercise and amusement soon restored his strength, 
and he acquired a fondness for hunting, fishing, and other 
country sports. Four years passed away in these pursuits, 
and in attention to the business of the farm while his elder 
brothers were absent, to the entire neglect of his education. 
But the time was not lost. Exercise and rural sports invigo- 
rated his frame, while his labors on the farm gave him a taste 
for agriculture, which he always retained, and in the pursuit 
of which he finds delightful occupation for his intervals of lei- 
sure from public duties." 

It is not our purpose, however, to enter into any detail of 
the life of Mr Calhoun. Suffice it to say that he was educat- 
ed, under Dr. Dwight, at Yale College, that he studied law at 
Licthfield in Connecticut, that he was for two sessions a member 
of the Legislature, that from 1811 to 1817 during the war 
with Great Britain, and the most trying times that followed it, 
he was a member of the lower House of Congress. That he 
was then appointed Secretary of War, under Madison, when he 
gave a new, thorough, and complete organization to his de- 
partment. That he was chosen Vice-President in 1825, and 
subsequently served his country as Senator of the United 
States, and Secretary of State, until the year 1850, when he 
died. During the whole of this long period his exertions were 
constant, and he took a leading part in all the movements of 
parties. Acting for the most of the time with the Democra- 



tic party, he was still never the slave of party, never guilty of 
the low arts or petty cunning of the mere politician, always 
fearless in the discharge of his duties, and though ambitious, 
ever sacrificing his ambition to his clearly discerned and open- 
ly expressed principles. Mr. Webster, who, during nearly the 
whole of his legislative career, and on nearly all questions of 
public concern, had been an active opponent, in an obituary 
address to the Senate, bore this testimony to his genius and his 

" Differing widely on many great questions respecting our 
institutions and the government of the country, those differ- 
ences never interrupted our personal and social intercourse. I 
have been present at most of the distinguished instances of the 
exhibition of his talents in debate. I have always heard him 
with pleasure, often with much instruction, not unfrequently 
with the highest degree of admiration. 

" Mr. Calhoun was calculated to be a leader in whatsoever 
association of political friends he was thrown. He was a man 
of undoubted genius and of commanding talents. All the 
country and all the world admit that. His mind was both 
perceptive and vigorous. It was clear, quick, and strong. 

" Sir, the eloquence of Mr. Calhoun, or the manner in which 
he exhibited his sentiments in public bodies, was part of his 
intellectual character. It grew out of the qualities of his 
mind. It was plain, strong, terse, condensed, concise ; some- 
times impassioned, still always severe. Kejecting ornament, not 
often seeking far for illustration, his power consisted in the 
plainness of his propositions, in the closeness of his logic, and 
in the earnestness and energy of his manner. These are the 
qualities, as I think, which have enabled him through such a 



long course of years to speak often, and yet command attention. 
His demeanor as a Senator is known to us all, is appreciated, 
venerated, by us all. No man was more respectful to others ; 
no man carried himself with greater decorum, no man with 
superior dignity. I think there is not one of us, when he 
last addressed us from his seat in the Senate, his form still 
erect, with a voice by no means indicating such a degree of 
physical weakness as did in fact possess him, with clear tones, 
and an impressive, and, I may say, an imposing manner, who 
did not feel that he might imagine that we saw before us a 
Senator of Home, while Kome survived. 

" Sir, I have not, in public, nor in private life, known a 
more assiduous person in the discharge of his appropriate du- 
ties. I have known no man who wasted less of life in what is 
called recreation, or employed less of it in any pursuits not con- 
nected with the immediate discharge of his duty. He seemed 
to have no recreation but the pleasure of conversation with 
his friends. Out of the chambers of Congress, he was either 
devoting himself to the acquisition of knowledge pertaining to the 
immediate subject of the duty before him, or else he was indulg- 
ing in those social interviews in which he so much delighted. 

" My honorable friend from Kentucky* has spoken in just 
terms of his colloquial talents. They certainly were singular 
and eminent. There was a charm in his conversation not 
often equalled. He delighted especially in' conversation and 
intercourse with young men. I suppose that there has been 
no man among us who had more winning manners, in such an 
intercourse and such conversation, with men comparatively 

* Mr. Clay. 


young, than Mr. Calhoun. I believe one great power of his 
character, in general, was his conversational talent. I believe 
it is that, as well as a consciousness of his high integrity, and 
the greatest reverence for his talents and ability, that has 
made him so endeared an object to the people of the State to 
which he belonged. 

" Mr. President, he had the basis, the indispensable basis 
of all high charcter ; and that was, unspotted integrity and 
unimpeached honor. If he had aspirations, they were high, 
and honorable, and noble. There was nothing grovelling, or 
low, or meanly selfish, that came near the head or the heart 
of Mr. Calhoun. Firm in his purpose, perfectly patriotic and 
honest, as I am sure he was, in the principles that he espous 
ed, and in the measures which he defended, aside from that 
large regard for the species of distinction that conducted him 
to eminent stations for the benefit of the republic, I do not 
believe he had a selfish motive or selfish feeling. However he 
may have differed from others of us in his political opinions or 
his political principles, those principles and those opinions will 
now descend to posterity under the sanction of a great name. 
He has lived long enough, he has done enough, and he has 
done it so well, so successfully, so honorably, as to connect 
himself for all time with the records of his country. He is 
now an historical character. Those of us who have known 
him here, will find that he has left upon our minds and our 
hearts a strong and lasting impression of his person, his char- 
acter, and his public performances, which, while we live, will 
never be obliterated. We shall hereafter, I am sure, indulge 
in it as a grateful recollection, that we have lived in his age, 
that we have been his contemporaries, that we have seen him, 



and heard him, and known him. We shall delight to speak 
of him to those who are rising up to fill our places. And, 
when the time shall come that we ourselves must go, one after 
another, to our graves, we shall carry with us a deep sense of 
his genius and character, his honor and integrity, his amiable 
deportment in private life, and the purity of his exalted pa- 

The event in Mr. Calhoun's political life which will give 
him the greatest distinction in our history, was the bold and 
perilous course he took on the subject of nullification. It 
brought him and his native State directly in conflict with the 
powers of the Federal government, and but for the comprom- 
ise of the Tariff question, out of which the controversy grew, 
would have ended in civil war. We shall not undertake to 
narrate the origin or the purpose of this most fearful crisis, 
referring our readers to the regular memoirs of Mr. Calhoun 
for the details, but we cannot refrain from expressing our high 
admiration of the gallant bearing of the great South Caroli- 
nian during the whole of the protracted and embarrassing 
dispute. The energy with which he pursued his ends, the 
originality with which he defended them, the boldness of his 
position, the devotion to his friends, the formidable objects 
that he had to encounter, the calm, earnest self-reliance with 
which he encountered them, and, in the end, the grace- 
ful concessions on both sides, by which the difficulties of 
the juncture were avoided, are brilliant illustrations both of 
the lofty energies of his spirit, and of the happy, peaceful 
working of our national institutions. In any other country, 
and under any other government, if it had been possible for 

such a conflict to arise, it could only have terminated in blood- 



shed or war. Either the reigning authority would have been 
overturned, or the chief agent in the insurrection would have 
been executed as a traitor. Under the benign and concilia- 
tory genius of our constitution, by that pacific legislation, which 
knows how to temper the rigid and inflexible exercise of law 
by the spirit of concession, the struggle ended in compromise. 

It was in his domestic life that Mr. Calhoun, won the 
warmest homage of the heart. Miss Bates, who was for many 
years a governess in his family, and who enjoyed the finest op- 
portunities for observing him, has given us the following record 
of his private virtues and peculiarities. 

" In Mr. Calhoun were united the simple habits of the 
Spartan lawgiver, the inflexible principles of the Roman sena- 
tor, the courteous bearing and indulgent kindness of the Amer- 
ican host, husband, and father. This was indeed a rare union. 
Life with him was solemn and earnest, and yet all about him 
was cheerful. I never heard him utter a jest ; there was an 
unvarying dignity and gravity in his manner ; and yet the 
playful child regarded him fearlessly and lovingly. Few men 
indulge their families in as free, confidential, and familiar in- 
tercourse as did this great statesman. Indeed, to those who 
had an opportunity of observing him in his own house, it was 
evident that his cheerful and happy home had attractions for 
him superior to those which any other place could offer. Here 
was a retreat from the cares, the observation, and the hom- 
age of the world. In few homes could the transient visitor 
feel more at ease than did the guest at Fort Hill. Those 
who knew Mr. Calhoun only by his senatorial speeches, may 
suppose that his heart and mind were all engrossed in the na- 
tion's councils ; but there were moments when his courtesy, 


his minute kindnesses, made you forget the statesman. The 
choicest fruits were selected for his guest ; and I remember 
seeing him at his daughter's wedding take the ornaments from 
a cake and send them to a little child. Many such graceful 
attentions, offered in an unostentatious manner to all about 
him, illustrated the kindness and noble simplicity of his na- 
ture. His family could not but exult in his intellectual great- 
ness, his rare endowments, and his lofty career, yet they seem- 
ed to lose sight of all these in their love for him. I had once 
the pleasure of travelling with his eldest son, who related to 
me many interesting facts and traits of his life. He said he 
had never heard him speak impatiently to any member of his 
family. He mentioned, that as he was leaving that morning 
for his home in Alabama, a younger brother said, • Come soon 
again, and see us, brother A — , for do you not see that father 
is growing old ? and is not father the dearest, best old man in 
the world ! ' 

" Like Cincinnatus, he enjoyed rural life and occupation. 
It was his habit, when at home, to go over his grounds every 
day. I remember his returning one morning from a walk 
about his plantation, delighted with the fine specimens of corn 
and rice which he brought in for us to admire. That morn- 
ing — the trifling incident shows his consideration and kind- 
ness of feeling, as well as his tact and power of adaptation — 
seeing an article of needlework in the hands of sister A — , 
who was then a stranger there, he examined it, spoke of the 
beauty of the coloring, the variety of the shade, and by thus 
showing an interest in her, at once made her at ease in his 

"His eldest daughter always accompanied him to Washing- 



ton, and in the absence of his wife, who was often detained 
by family cares at Fort Hill, this daughter was his solace amid 
arduous duties, and his confidant in perplexing cases. Like 
the gifted De Stael, she loved her father with enthusiastic de- 
votion. Richly endowed by nature, improved by constant 
companionship with the great man, her mind was in harmony 
with his, and he took pleasure in counselling with her. She 
said, c Of course, I do not understand as he does, for I am 
comparatively a stranger to the world, yet he likes my unso- 
phisticated opinion, and I frankly tell him my views on any 
subject about which he inquires of me/ 

" Between himself and his younger daughter there was 
a peculiar and most tender union. As by the state of her 
health she was t deprived of many enjoyments, her indulgent 
parents endeavored to compensate for every loss by their affec- 
tion and devotion. As reading was her favorite occupation, 
she was allowed to go to the letter-bag when it came from 
the office, and select the papers she preferred. On one occa- 
sion, she had taken two papers, containing news of importance 
which her father was anxious to see, but he would allow no 
one to disturb her until she had finished their perusal. 

" In his social as well as in his domestic relations he was ir- 
reproachable. No shadow rested on his pure fame, no blot on 
his escutcheon. In his business transactions he was punctual 
and scrupulously exact. He was honorable as well as honest. 
Young men who were reared in his vicinity, with their eyes 
ever on him, say that in all respects, in small as well as in 
great things, his conduct was so exemplary that he might well 
be esteemed a model. 

" His profound love for his own family, his cordial interest 



in his friends, his kindness and justice in every transaction, 
were not small virtues in such a personage. 

" He was anti-Byronic. I never heard him ridicule or sa- 
tirize a human being. Indeed he might have been thought 
deficient in a sense of the ludicrous, had he not by the unvary- 
ing propriety of his own conduct proved his exquisite percep- 
tion of its opposites. When he differed in opinion from those 
with whom he conversed, he seemed to endeavor by a respect- 
ful manner, to compensate for the disagreement. He em- 
ployed reason, rather than contradiction ; and so earnestly 
would he urge an opinion and so fully present an argument, 
that his opponent could not avoid feeling complimented rather 
than mortified. He paid a tribute to the understandings of 
others by the force of his own reasoning, and by his readiness 
to admit every argument which he could, although advanced 
in opposition to one he himself had just expressed. 

" On one occasion I declined taking a glass of wine at his 
table. He kindly said, ' I think you carry that a little too 
far. It is well to give up every thing intoxicating, but not 
these light wines. ' I replied, that wine was renounced by 
many for the sake of consistency, and for the benefit of those 
who could not afford wine. He acknowledged the correctness 
of the principle, adding, 'I do not know how temperance so- 
cieties can take any other ground/ and then defined his views 
of temperance, entered on a course of interesting arguments, 
and stated facts and statistics. Of course, were all men like 
Mr. Calhoun temperance societies would be superfluous. Per- 
haps he could not be aware of the temptations that assail 
many men — he was so purely intellectual, so free from self- 
indulgonce. Materiality with him was held subject to his 


higher nature. He did not even indulge himself in a cigar. 
Few spent as little time, and exhausted as little energy in 
mere amusements. Domestic and social enjoyments were his 
pleasures — kind and benevolent acts were his recreations. 

" He always seemed willing to converse on any subject 
which was interesting to those about him. Returning one 
day from Fort Hill, I remarked to a friend, c I have never 
been more convinced of Mr. Calhoun's genius than to-day, 
while he talked to us of a flower/ His versatile conversation 
evinced his universal knowledge, his quick perception, and 
his faculty of adaptation. A shower one day compelled him to 
take shelter in the shed of a blacksmith, who was charmed by 
his familiar conversation, and the knowledge he exhibited of 
the mechanic arts. A naval officer was once asked, after a 
visit to Fort Hill, how he liked Mr. Calhoun. 1 Not at all/ 
said he — ' I never like a man who knows more about my pro- 
fession than I do myself/ A clergyman wished to converse 
with him on subjects of a religious nature, and after the in- 
terview remarked, that he was astonished to find him better 
informed than himself on those very points wherein he had ex- 
pected to give him information. I had understood that Mr. 
Calhoun avoided an expression of opinion with regard to dif- 
ferent sects and creeds, or what is called religious controversy ; 
and once, when urged to give his views in relation to a disput- 
ed point, he replied, £ That is a subject to which I have never 
given my attention/ 

" Mr. Calhoun was unostentatious, and ever averse to dis- 
play. He did not appear to talk for the sake of exhibition, 
but from the overflowing of his earnest nature. Whether in 
the Senate or in conversation with a single listener, his lan- 



guage was choice, his style fervid, his manner impressive. 
Never can I forget his gentle earnestness when endeavorin j, to 
express his views on some controverted subject, and observing 
that my mind could hardly keep pace with his rapid reasoning, 
he would occasionally pause and say, in his kind manner, ' Do 
you see ? ' 

" He did not seek to know the opinion of others with regard 
to himself. Anonymous letters he never read, and his daughters 
and nieces often snatched from the flames letters of adulation 
as well as censure, which he had not read. Although he re- 
spected the opinions of his fellow-men, he did not seek office 
or worldly honor. A. few years since, one to whom he ever 
spoke freely, remarked to him that some believed he was mak- 
ine efforts to obtain the presidency. At that moment he had 
taken off his glasses, and was wiping them, and thus he re- 
plied : ' M , I think when a man is too old to see clearly 

through his glasses, he is too old to think of the presidency.' 
And recently he said to her, ' They may impute what motives 
they please to me, but I do not seek office/ So much did he 
respect his country, that he might have been gratified by the 
free gift of the people ; so much did he love his country, that 
he might have rejoiced at an opportunity to serve it ; but would 
he have swerved one iota from his convictions to secure a king- 
dom ? "Who, that knew him, believes it ? " 

Mr. Calhoun was an author as well as a statesman, and in 
the dissertations on the constitution and on government pub- 
lished since his death, has bequeathed us the ripened fruits of 
his life-long study. They are works of the rarest penetration 
and sagacity, of subtle logic, of earnest conviction, of profound 
observation of men and things, and of unquestionable genius. 


The particular conclusions at which the writer arrives, as to 
the nature and limits of government, and as to the amend- 
ments that ought to be made in the constitution of the United 
States, will not be adopted by large classes of readers ; but 
none of them will arise from a perusal of his pages, without 
an additional admiration of the keenness and force of his in- 
tellect, the ardor of his patriotism, and the purity of his 



THE Academy of Sciences at Dijon recently asked of their 
municipality, that all houses in the commune winch de- 
served to be historical, might be marked by commemorative 
inscriptions. The Council, we are told, readily acceded to the 
request, and among the birth-places and residences thus desig- 
nated are those of Buffon, Crebillon, Guyton De Morveau, and 
the Marshal Tavennes. 

We in this country, whether fortunately or unfortunately, 
live in too progressive an age to allow us to ask for similar 
remembrances. Unless a statesman happens to be reared in 


a rural district, the house of his birth seldom survives his 
youth, possibly his manhood. New structures arise, and the 
succeeding generation know little or nothing of what pre- 

In the instance of DeWitt Clinton, the difficulty is in- 
creased by the diversity of statements that are made relative 
to his birth-place. He was the son of James Clinton, a gallant 
soldier in both of the now classic wars of this country. Com- 
missioned as an ensign in the war of 1756, Mr. Clinton served 
during most of its campaigns. The Continental Congress, in 
1775, appointed him colonel of one of the New- York regi- 
ments ; and after particularly distinguishing himself at Fort 
Montgomery and Yorktown, he retired from the army of the 
Revolution with the rank of major-general. 

It was after the close of the French War that Mr. Clinton 
was married to Mary DeWitt. She is represented as having 
been beautiful in her youth — an only sister, with nine brothers. 
To them four sons were born, of whom DeWitt was the second. 
The date of his birth is well settled — being the year 1769 ; — 
not so the place. Many of his biographers unite in stating that 
this was Little Britain, in Orange County, where his father 
resided. Some assert that he was born at New Windsor, in 
the same county, in a house still standing, and which can be 
seen from the river ; while others relate the tradition that 
his parents were on a visit to the fort at Minisink, then under 
the command of Colonel DeWitt, a brother of Mrs. Clinton ; 
that a severe and long-continued snow-storm occurred, and 
that the mother was there confined. 

On his education it is scarcely necessary to dwell, farther 
than to trace its influence on his subsequent career. His 



parents bestowed on him that inestimable gift — the best edu- 
cation that the State could afford — first at Kingston Academy, 
and subsequently at Columbia College. The professors' chairs 
were filled by eminent men, who appear to have appreciated 
the talents of their pupil. He was the first graduate after the 

At the age of seventeen he commenced the study of the 
law with the elder Samuel Jones, whose eminence as an advo- 
cate, and honesty as a high state officer, still linger amongst 
our earliest reminiscences. 

Thus prepared, as well by preliminary instruction as by 
earnest self-improvement, he was about entering on the pro- 
fession of the law, with elders and contemporaries equal to any 
bar in the Union, when his destiny was at once and perman- 
ently changed. He was the nephew of George Clinton, the 
governor of the young State of New- York ; distinguished by 
his civil and military talents ; admirably qualified to guide the 
rising republic through its forming stages, although possibly 
too tenacious of his peculiar opinions, and, unfortunately, too 
long opposed to the adoption of the Constitution. 

The parties that from time to time controlled the destinies 
of the country were now in active collision. In the State of 
New- York, Jay and Hamilton were the leaders and guides of 
the Federalists, and Governor Clinton needed all the intellec- 
tual aid that could be brought to bear on the contest. He 
selected his nephew as his private secretary, and the sagacity, 
at least, of the choice has never been disputed. Several papers 
on subjects of public and permanent interest, known to have 
emanated from the pen of DeWitt Clinton, are still pre- 


We are told that he remained in this station until 1795 — 
the close of the long administration (continued by re-elections) 
of his uncle. 

In 1797, he was elected a member of the Assembly from 
the city of New- York, and the next year, of the Senate. The 
tenure of the first of these was annual, and of the last for four 
years. From the above date to the hour of his death, with 
short intervals, he continued to be chosen in succession to the 
Senate, and as lieutenant-governor and governor. He was 
for the space of two years a member of the United States 
Senate. From 1803 to 1807, and from 1808 to 1815, 
he served as mayor of the city of New- York. This is a brief 
outline of the situations he held, and it is only necessary to fill 
up the sketch with notices of what he proposed and accom- 
plished, to complete the picture. 

His " homes," with the brief exception of two winters at 
Washington, were, of course, mainly in New- York and 

In the former, his town residence was at the lower end of 
Broadway — then the fashionable part of the city, and where 
wealthy bankers, and merchants, and distinguished professional 
men loved to fix their dwellings. At a short distance from 
the Bowling-green and the Battery, the breezes from the ocean 
occasionally found their way and shed their influences. Com- 
merce has commanded the removal of most of these private 
residences, and she has been rigidly obeyed. The merchandise 
of the Old and of the New World needs still increasing de- 

While remaining in New- York, he owned a country-seat 
at Maspeth, on Long Island, to which he frequently resorted, 



and where he indulged in his favorite pursuits of angling and 
hunting. He was greatly attached to these, until in after life 
an unfortunate accident rendered active exercise too labo- 

Of Albany, the place in which a large portion of his mature 
life was spent, we feel some constraint in giving, what we con- 
sider, a just account. By many, even intelligent travellers, it 
is only known as a place of transfer from steamboats and 
railroads — as excessively hot in summer, and as the capital of 
the State, where the Legislature holds its sessions during the 

But its antiquities — if antiquities are to be spoken of in 
this country — are of some interest. Here an American Con- 
gress once assembled, of which Franklin was a member. 
Whenever England and France contended for mastery on this 
continent, many of the officers and troops of the former halted 
here for a while, or passed on for the finally accomplished object 
of the conquest of Canada. Here for a time were Howe and 
Abercrombie, Amherst and Sir William Johnson ; while, to the 
French, it seems to have been the limit, which, though they 
burnt Schenectady and ravaged the western part of the State, 
they seemed scarcely able to reach. 

Passing over intermediate occurrences, during the war of 
1812 there was here concentrated a large portion of the mili- 
tary force of the United States, which went forth in all the 
pomp and circumstance of war to its mingled career of defeat 
and success. 

Two dwellings still remain in Albany dear to Revolutionary 
memory — the residences of General Philip Schuyler and Gen- 
eral Abraham Ten Broeck. The latter was distinguished as 


a brave and capable militia officer. The services and talents 
of the former are not as yet sufficiently appreciated. The 
wise man — the trusted of Washington — the able statesman — 
who early pointed out the way to internal improvement in the 
State of New- York, only needs an impartial and well-instructed 
biographer to be duly known. 

It is a matter of satisfaction that both of these residences — 
crowning heights north and south of the city — are in excellent 
preservation, owned by wealthy persons, and destined, we may 
hope, to a long existence. 

Governor Clinton occupied during his residence in Albany 
(part of the time he was out of office) two different houses, 
which possess an interest only inferior to those we have just 
mentioned. One of them, formerly almost a country resi- 
dence, — built by Peter W. Yates, an eminent counsellor at law, 
and now owned by another of the same name, — was, for a 
series of years, the dwelling-place of governors of the State of 
New- York. Here Tompkins dispensed his hospitality, while he 
wielded, in a manner but partially understood, the destinies of 
the nation during the war of 1812 ; and from this beautiful 
seat he departed, in an evil hour to himself, to be Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States. Clinton succeeded. In this 
house he met with a severe accident, — a fracture of the knee- 
pan from a fall ; after a slow recovery he was enabled to use 
the limb with but slight indication of the injury. Still it pre- 
vented him from taking exercise on horseback, to which he had 
been much accustomed, and it probably led to an increased 
fulness of habit, in the later years of his life. 

Subsequently to this he occupied a house (it was that in 
which he died) in Pearl-street, built by Goldsboro Banyer, 



one of the last deputy Secretaries of State of the Colony of 
New- York. It was bequeathed to his son's widow, a daughter 
of Governor Jay, and on her removal to New- York, was 
taken as a governor's residence. 

It would scarcely be proper to conclude these sketches, 
without briefly enumerating the services of DeWitt Clinton 
to his State and country. Most of these were thought of, de- 
veloped and produced ready for adoption, within the sacred pre- 
cincts of his " home." 

As mayor of New- York, he was at that time head of 
the judicial department of the city. Subsequently that 
officer has been relieved of these duties, and several lo- 
cal courts have been found necessary, to dispose of the 
cases which the tangled relations of commerce are con- 
stantly bringing forth. Some records of his ability both as a 
civil and a criminal judge still remain. A Catholic priest had 
been called upon to disclose what had been communicated to 
him at the confessional. In Ins opinion, Mr. Clinton sustained 
the sacred nature of the secret thus imparted, and subsequent 
legislation, doubtless founded on this case, extended the exemp- 
tion not only to the clergyman, but also to the physician. He 
also aided with great energy in putting down and punishing 
riots, caused by excited political feelings. Nor should we omit to 
say, that before him was tried the peculiar case of Whistelo, in 
which the wit of Counsellor Sampson, and the peculiarities of 
Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchill were equally conspicuous. 

As a member of the Senate of New- York, he became ex 
officio also a member of the highest court in the State — the 
court for the trial of impeachments, and the correction of 
errors in the inferior courts. Several of Ins decisions are to be 


found in the volumes of New- York State Keports. He grap- 
pled with the subjects of insurance law, of libel, the power of 
committing for contempt, the construction of the Habeas Cor- 
pus Act, and the effect of foreign admiralty decisions. 
"Some of these," says Chancellor Kent, "are models of judi- 
cial and parliamentary eloquence, and they all relate to im- 
portant questions, affecting constitutional rights and personal 
liberty. They partake more of the character of a statesman's 
discussions, than that of a dry technical lawyer, and are 
therefore more interesting to the general scholar." 

As a legislator, it is quite sufficient to refer to the long 
list of laws drawn up and supported by him, as it is given in 
the eighth chapter of Professor Renwick's life, to appreciate the 
high class of subjects to which he applied his best efforts. 
We select only a portion. An act respecting a digest of the 
public laws of the State. An act to enlarge the powers of 
and to endow the Orphan Asylum society, — to amend the in- 
solvent laws, to prevent the inhuman treatment of slaves, for 
the support of the quarantine establishment, to revise and 
amend the militia law, to incorporate the society for the relief 
of poor widows with small children, for promoting medical 
science, for the further encouragement of free schools, for se- 
curing to mechanics and others, payment for their labor and 
materials in the city of New- York. It has been urged that 
others by their efforts, or their votes, have been as useful as 
was Mr. Clinton, in procuring the passage of these and similar 
laws. Be it so. It is not even attempted to deny this. It 
would be treason to the great interests of humanity to claim 
exclusive honor for a single man. But he knows little of prac- 
tical legislation, who is not perfectly aware how efficient and 



important it is to have one individual, eminent in talents, high 
in power, who is willing to initiate useful measures — propose 
their adoption, and support them with his best abilities. 

In the matter of the Canals of New- York, this is his high 
honor ; this his crowning glory. Even during life, he gave 
due credit to all who suggested or supported the work ; but his 
pre-eminent merit is, that he adopted the canal policy as his 
own party policy. It has been said, in words which cannot be 
bettered, that " in the great work of internal improvement, he 
persevered through good report and through evil report, with 
a steadiness of purpose that no obstacle could divert ; and 
when all the elements were in commotion around him, and 
even his chosen associates were appalled, he alone, like Colum- 
bus, on the wide waste of waters, in his frail bark with a dis- 
heartened and unbelieving crew, remained firm, self-poised 
and unshaken." 

Heaven in its goodness allowed life till the great work was 

Of Governor Clinton's devotion to science and to litera- 
ture, of his patronage and support of societies and institu- 
tions, for their diffusion, all are knowing ; but it is not suffi- 
ciently understood, that these were amateur pursuits, followed 
during hours that he could scarcely spare from his legitimate 
duties. Whatever of imperfection or of crudeness may there- 
fore be found in them, should be charitably considered. 

His domestic habits were simple and unobtrusive. He 
was industrious through life — the earliest riser in the house — 
frequently, if not generally, making his office fire in the win- 
ter, and dispatching most of his voluminous correspondence 
before the breakfast hour. 



In his family, he was every thing that became a man — a 
kind and faithful husband ; an affectionate, indeed indulgent 
father ; a warm, devoted, and often self-sacrificing friend. 
What wonder is it, that his memory should continue to be 
cherished with sincere love and ever increasing esteem. 


o r in 


S T R Y 

IT is a common saying among lawyers, that in proportion to 
the labor which their profession exacts, and the degree of 
distinction which success confers upon them during their life- 
time, their fate is a hard one in the struggle for immortality. 
They are accustomed to say in a tone of half complaint, that the 
zeal and ability which would earn for them a cheap celebrity in 
some other pursuit, is expended upon the establishing of some 
nice distinction, or the solving of some intricate problem which 
no one but themselves can appreciate, and in which no one but 
themselves (and their clients) take any interest. There is sonic 


truth in all this. The whole community stands ready to read 
the last production of the literary man, so only that he make 
it worth reading, and often without requiring ' even so much ; 
whereas, the neatest point that a lawyer could take is consti- 
tutionally repulsive to one-half of creation, and dry and un- 
meaning to the greater part of the remainder. Even those 
whose names are on the Hps of men, owe their good fortune 
often to something other than their law. If Blackstone were 
not among the most classical writers of the English language, 
we should not have lived to see twenty-one English editions of 
his Commentaries. He was probably a less profound lawyer 
than several sergeants who practised before him in the Court 
of Common Pleas, whose names would escape an insertion in 
the most Universal Biographical Dictionary. So the success- 
ful lawyer must content himself with his worldly prosperity, — 
if in his lifetime he receives his good things, that must be his 
comfort, and in truth it is no small one. 

But the nature of a lawyer's employment, even if he combine 
with it the kindred one of politics and legislation, is not apt to 
invest his home with that attraction to the stranger which the 
home of the literary man possesses. We are at once interested 
to know who the author is, who has charmed us by the quaint- 
ness of his conceits, or the freshness and purity of his style. 
We want to see the house and the room, where those intricate 
plots are matured, or those life-like characters are first con- 
ceived. But Coke upon Littleton, seems pretty much the same, 
whether read upon the green slope of a country hill, or in the 
third story of an office down town. Besides, the author is at 
liberty to seek the most secluded spots, and dwell amongst the 
most romantic scenery, and surround himself with all that 



makes life beautiful to contemplate ; and it is for his interest 
to do this, in order that his mind may be kept open to im- 
pressions, his spirits elevated and serene, and his whole life 
calm and happy. The lawyer on the other hand, must seek 
communion, not with nature, but with men ; he must dwell 
among large communities, and rail even there where merchants 
most do congregate. 

The home of the distinguished lawyer and statesman whose 
name is placed at the head of these lines, is an exception from 
the homes of others of his peers ; if it be true that it is the fate 
of a laywer's home to be an object of interest to its inmates 
alone. There was something in his frank, enthusiastic and 
generous nature, which made him always susceptible to the in- 
fluences of home, and always fitted to awake and to wield those 
enchantments with which a home is invested. The secluded 
peninsula of Marblehead, with its long firm beach upon one 
side, and its rocky precipitous shore upon the other ; begirt on 
three sides by the ever-changing Atlantic, is considered by his 
biographer to have had its effect in moulding the character of 
the boy ; and in the quiet, tame inland beauty of Cambridge, 
with its academical proprieties, and its level streets, and its 
spacious marshes, through winch the winding Charles " slips 
seaward silently ; ° many remain outside of the family circle, 
to testify to the magical attraction which once hung about the 
narrow brick house where he lived, and the cordial greeting 
which the visitor received at the hands of its former occupant. 

Judge Story was born in the antiquated, primeval fishing 
town of Marblehead ; a town presenting such a rocky and bar- 
ren surface, that when Whitfield entered it for the first time, 
he was fain to inquire, " Pray, where do they bury their dead ? ' ; 


Story himself speaks of his birthplace as " a secluded fishing 
town, having no general connection with other towns, and, not 
being a thoroughfare, without that intercourse which brings 
strangers to visit it, or to form an acquaintance with its in- 
habitants." In fact it could not well be a thoroughfare, since it 
leads only from Salem to the sea, and the inhabitants of the 
latter town have a sufficiently ready access of their own. But 
though Marblehead with its scanty soil, and its isolated posi- 
tion, is neither an Eden nor a thoroughfare, it is at least a stout 
old place where men are grown ; where an entire regiment was 
furnished for the cause of American Independence, completely 
officered and manned by brave men, to whom the dangers of 
war were but a continuation of previous lives of peril, and who 
supplied besides more privateers than history has recorded, to 
harass the enemy upon an element with which they were more 

The town of Marblehead is supported by the fishery busi- 
ness. A large portion of its inhabitants are simple fishermen, 
whose manhood is passed in voyages to the Great Banks, and 
voyages back ; a constant succession of those perils which are 
incident to the sea, with long winter evenings of sailors' yarns 
and ghost stories, in one monotonous round, till they finally de- 

" On that drear voyage from whose night 
The ominous shadows never lift." 

It was among a population of this kind, and at a time when a 
long and disastrous war had crippled their resources, that the 
youthful Story began with his accustomed enthusiasm to ac- 
quire that education whose root is bitter when grown in the 



most favorable soil. Without advantages of good schooling, 
or a plentiful supply of books, he did what thousands of others, 
great and small, have done and are doing ; that is, he acquired 
an education without the modern improvements on which our 
boys rely, and whose value their parents and teachers are so apt 
to over-estimate. In the shop of the Marblehead barber, the 
village great men assembled to hear the news, and to hold forth 
upon the condition and prospects of the young republic, as well 
as to have their ambrosial locks powdered and their beards re- 
moved. Here, in place of the modern lecture room, our young- 
hero resorted, and listened reverently to oracular utterances 
from wise mouths in the intervals of the shaving brush and the 
razor. The village barber himself, endowed with an easy gar- 
rulity, more natural and professional than the stately reserve 
of his metropolitan brother, could, at his leisure, retail the 
wisdom of his many councillors, diluted to the point where it 
admitted of the mental digestion of a child. 

This, together with the usual toils and discouragements of 
the classics, and the hopes and fears which a college examination 
inspires, made up a boy's life in Marblehead before this centu- 
ry began. The old Judge, late in life recalling these early 
Marblehead times, speaks of other influences, some of whose 
effect is, we imagine, derived from the fact that he is viewing 
them in his maturity, as they then appear, softened as seen 
down the long vista of nearly forty years. " My delight/' he 
says, " was to roam over the narrow and rude territory of my 
native town ; to traverse its secluded beaches and its shallow 
inlets ; to gaze upon the sleepless ocean ; to lay myself down 
on the sunny rocks, and listen to the deep tones of the rising 
and the falling tides ; to look abroad when the foaming waves 


were driven with terrific force and uproar against the barren 
cliffs or the rocky promontories, which every where opposed 
their immovable fronts to resist them ; to seek, in the midst 
of the tremendous majesty of an eastern storm, some elevated 
spot, where, in security, I could mark the mountain billow 
break upon the distant shore, or dash its broken waters over 
the lofty rocks which here and there stood along the coast, 
naked and weather-beaten. But still more was I pleased in 
a calm summer day, to lay myself down alone on one of the 
beautiful heights which overlook the harbor of Salem, and to 
listen to the broken sounds of the hammers in the distant ship- 
yards, or to the soft dash of the oar of some swift-moving 
boat, or to the soft ripple of the murmuring wave ; or to gaze 
on the swelling sail, or the flying bird, or the scarcely moving 
smoke, in a re very of delicious indolence." 

When Story left Marblehead and entered Harvard College 
in 1795, he was brought in contact with somewhat different 
circumstances and different temptations from those which there 
await the youthful student in these days. Coming from a 
small and tolerably illiterate fishing town, into the midst of 
such literary shades, being in daily converse with young men 
at an age when the mind is lively, and full of the easy self- 
confidence which the mutual flattery of a College begets, his 
enthusiasm was quickened anew, and his generous nature at- 
tacked on its weakest side. " I seemed," he says, " to breathe 
a higher atmosphere, and to look abroad with a wider vision 
and more comprehensive powers. Instead of the narrow group 
of a village, I was suddenly brought into a large circle of young 
men engaged in literary pursuits, and warmed and cheered by 
the hopes of future eminence." There is, perhaps, no impro- 



priety in saying, that at fifteen, we look abroad with a wider 
vision and more comprehensive powers than we do at twelve, 
and such young men as Channing, his friendly rival in College, 
and Tuckerman, his chum, might well be warmed and cheered 
by the hopes of future eminence. The students in those days 
enjoyed as much seclusion as now, with perhaps a little less 
general culture and a little more dissipation. But, as we have 
intimated, in some respects the changes were greater. The 
anti-republican system of "fagging" had not then become quite 
obsolete and forgotten, but existed at least in oral tradition, 
whereas now, its less rigorous substitute has recently fallen 
into disuse. In those days there was not even an unsuccessful 
attempt, to render the intercourse between the Professors and 
the students in any sense parental, but the formal and uncon- 
fiding manners of the old school were preached, as well as 
practised. The line of division between the College and the 
town was sharply drawn and unhesitatingly maintained on the 
part of the former, and the opportunities for social intercourse 
with Boston were comparatively limited, when omnibuses were 
unknown, and the bridge regarded as a somewhat hazardous 
speculation. Now the students are to be seen in Washington 
street on Saturdays, and there is scarce an evening's entertain- 
ment in Boston, without young representatives from Cam- 
bridge. And the old town itself has added so many new houses 
to its former number, that a great change is coming over the 
face of Cambridge society. The term "the season" is beginning 
■to have its proper significance, the winter months being pretty 
well filled with the customary social observances. It is true 
that the College is still the controlling element. Festivities 
are mostly suspended during the first two months of the year, 


which is the time of the winter vacation, and revive again with 
the return of the spring and the students. But from faint 
symptoms which may be detected by the anxious observer, 
there is reason to fear that it may not be long before the great 
body of the students will have cause on their part, to complain 
of that exclusiveness which they have exercised as their prerog- 
ative for more than two centuries. 

The four short years of Story's undergraduate existence 
were passed free, alike from this species of social pleasure and 
social anxiety. He was naturally fond of company, and had 
a healthy, youthful taste for conviviality ; but he shrank in- 
stinctively from excesses, and was, fortunately, also ambitious 
to win a high rank for scholarship. His companions were 
of his own age, and those divinities who people the inner 
chambers of a young man's fancy at the age of nineteen, were 
not upon the spot to distract overmuch his attention from his 
studies. He left his home within the College walls before he 
had arrived at manhood, and returned again some thirty years 
after in the maturity of his powers, to repay to his foster 
mother the debt which he owed for his education, by imparting 
to her younger children the results of his experience. Cam- 
bridge is to be considered as his home ; it was there that he 
won his greatest fame, it was there that he fondly turned to 
refresh himself after his labors on the full bench and the 
circuit ; this was the home of his affections and his interests, 
and there his earnest and active life was brought to its calm 
and peaceful close. 

In Brattle-street, a little distance on the road from the 
Colleges to Mount Auburn, there stands a narrow brick house, 
with its gable end to the street, facing the east, and a long 



piazza on its southern side. It is situated just at the head of 
Appian Way — not the Queen of Ways, leading from Rome to 
Brundusium, over which Horace journeyed in company with 
Virgil, and Paul's brethren came to meet him as far as Appii 
Forum and The Three Taverns, but a short lane, boasting not 
many more yards than its namesake miles ; leading from 
Cambridge Common to Brattle-street, journeyed over by hur- 
rying students with Horace and Virgil under their arms, 
without a single tavern in it, and hardly long enough to ac- 
commodate three. The external appearance of the house 
would hardly attract or reward the attention of the passer by. 
It stands by itself, looking as much too high for its width as 
an ordinary city residence in New- York, that has sprung up 
in advance of the rest of its block. The street in which it 
stands is flat and shady, but wonderfully dusty nevertheless , 
for Cambridge is a town 

" Where dust and mud the equal year divide." 

The old inhabitants may be supposed to be reconciled to that 
dust, of which they are made, and to which they naturally 
expect in a few years to return. Thus Lowell finds it in his 
heart to sing the praises of Cambridge soil, 

" Dear native town ! whose choking elms each year 
With eddying dust before their time turn gray, 
Pining for rain, — to me thy dust is dear ; 
It glorifies the eve of Summer day." 

But, however native Cantabs may feel, the temporary resident 
hails the friendly watering-cart, which appears at intervals in 
the streets, since the old town has changed itself into a city. 


A flower-garden on the south side, separates Judge Story's 
house from the village blacksmith, who has had the rare hap- 
piness of being celebrated in the verses of his two fellow-towns- 
men, the poets Longfellow and Lowell ; 

" Under a spreading chestnut tree, 

The village smithy stands ; 
The smith, a mighty man is he, 

With large and sinewy hands, 
And the muscles of his brawny arm 

Are strong as iron bands. 

" His hair is crisp, and black, and long, 

His face is like the tan, 
His brow is wet with honest sweat, 

He earns whate'er he can, 
And looks the whole world in the face 

For he owes not any man. 

" Week in, week out, from morn to night, 
You can hear his bellows blow ; 
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, 

With measured beat and slow, 
Like a sexton ringing the village bell, 
When the evening sun is low. 

" And children coming home from school 

Look in at the open door; 
They love to see the flaming forge, 

And hear the bellows roar, 
And catch the burning sparks that fly 

Like chaff from a threshing floor." 

Among the children who thus looked in upon the old smith 
in former days, was Lowell himself, who has embodied this 
juvenile reminiscence in a few lines, which may be appropri- 
ately inserted here, and the curious reader may contrast the 



image they contain, with the parallel one in the concluding 
lines from Longfellow, quoted above. 

"How many times prouder than King on throne, 
Loosed from the village school-dame's A's and B's, 

Panting have I the creaky bellows blown, 
And watched the pent volcano's red increase, 

Then paused to see the ponderous sledge brought down 

By that hard arm voluminous and brown, 
From the white iron swarm its golden vanishing bees." 

The village blacksmith is dead now, the fires which he lighted 
in the forge have gone out, and an unknown successor wields 
the sledge, which may still be heard as ever, from the piazza 
of his neighbor's house, and down the road on the other side, 
as far as the row of lindens which overshadow a mansion once 
inhabited by the worthy old Tory, Brattle, who has given his 
name to the street. 

The external appearance of Judge Story's house does not 
add much to the poetry of its surroundings. It runs back in 
an irregular way, a long distance from the street, and at its 
furthermost end, in the second story, is, or used to be, the 
library, commanding the same view which constituted such a 
recommendation to Dick Swiveller's house, namely, the oppo- 
site side of the way. There is not, therefore, an opportunity 
for much romance to cluster about it, nor is its attractiveness 
increased, when the reader is reminded that the story beneath 
answered the purposes of a woodshed. But the house which 
witnessed the daily labors of such a man, need not covet or pre- 
tend to those outside attractions which it unquestionably lacks. 

Judge Story removed to Cambridge, for the purpose of 
taking charge of the Law-school connected with the Uni- 


versity. This institution had just received an endowment from 
Nathan Dane, which, together with the labors and reputation 
of the new Professor, were the prime causes of its establishment 
upon such a durable foundation, that the number of its students 
was increased five fold. From this period, his time was divided 
among Washington, during the sitting of the Supreme Court, 
the first circuit in the New-England States, and Cambridge, 
which henceforward was his home. The Law-school he re- 
garded as his favorite and most important field of labor, and 
always recurred to his connection with it, with pleasure and 
pride ; and a word concerning this Institution may, with pro- 
priety, be coupled with a description of his personal habits, so 
that both together will furnish, better than any thing else, a 
correct picture of the daily life of the man. 

At the time that Story accepted the Dane Professorship in 
the Law-school in Cambridge he had already achieved the 
labor of a lifetime. A lucrative business at the bar, was 
quitted for a seat upon the bench of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. He began his political life as a democrat and 
stanch supporter of J efferson, when there were not many such 
in Massachusetts ; but in later life he became a whig. The 
natural effect of a judicial station upon a mind like his, was 
to make him cautious and conservative ; and he finally seemed 
a little distrustful of even the party with which he was asso- 
ciated. In the convention of 1820, which formed the existing 
constitution of Massachusetts, he took an active part with such 
men as Webster and Parker, and Quincy ; and Prescott, and 
many of our important mercantile statutes and bankrupt laws 
were drawn by him, nearly, or quite in the form in which they 
were finally passd by Congress. He had been for about eighteen 



years an associate J ustice of the Supreme Court, when, without 
resigning that position, he assumed the almost equally onerous 
duties of a Professor of Law. This new field of activity was 
entered upon with earnestness and zeal, and it is not necessary 
to state the success with which his efforts were attended. 
Towards the students his manner was familiar and affectionate. 
He was fond of designating them as " my boys," and without 
assuming any superiority, or exacting any formal respect, he 
participated so far as he was able in their success and failure ; 
and extended beyond the narrow period of the school, far into 
active life, that interest in their behalf which he had contracted 
as their teacher. His lectures upon what are commonly con- 
sidered the dry topics of the law, were delivered with enthu- 
siasm, and illustrated with copious anecdotes from the store- 
house of his memory and his experience, and filled with episodes 
which were suggested to his active mind at almost every step. 
Indeed, if one were disposed to point out his prominent fault 
as a legal writer, he would probably select that diffuseness of 
style and copiousness of illustration, which, though it contri- 
butes somewhat to fulness and perspicuity, does it nevertheless 
at the cost of convenient brevity ; which can more easily be 
dispensed with in a poem than in a law-book. But that 
characteristic which might perhaps be considered as a blemish 
in his legal treatises, only rendered him better qualified for a 
successful oral lecturer. A printed volume admits of the last 
degree of condensation, because repeated perusals of one page 
will effect every thing which could be expected from a prolonged 
discussion over many ; and to text-books of law, the student 
or the practitioner resort principally for a statement of results, 
with the addition of only so much general reasoning as may 


render the results intelligible. In an oral lecture on the 
other hand, as the attention cannot be arrested, or time taken 
to overcome difficulties, repetition and reiteration, so far from 
being a blemish, is a merit. To these qualifications Story- 
added engaging manners, and a personal presence, which gave 
him extraordinary influence over the young men who crowded 
to receive the benefit of his instructions. His zeal was con- 
tagious, and awakened similar feelings in his hearers, and the 
enthusiasm of the speaker and the audience acted and reacted 
upon each other. Many anecdotes are related to show the 
interest in the study of the law y which, under his magical in- 
fluence, was awakened, not only among the few who are natu- 
rally studious, but among the whole body of the students 
almost without exception. 

Saturday is a day of rest in Cambridge by immemorial 
usage. To force upon the undergraduates a recitation on 
Saturday afternoon, would outrage their feelings to such an ex- 
tent, as to justify in their opinion a resort to the last appeal, 
namely, a rebellion. Yet under Story's ministrations the law- 
students were eager to violate the sacredness of Saturday, to 
which the Judge assented, animated by a zeal superior to 
their own. So that the whole week was devoted to lectures, 
and the conducting in moot courts of prepared cases. " I 
have given," says the Judge in a letter to a friend, " nearly the 
whole of last term, when not on judicial duty, two lectures 
every day, and even broke in upon the sanctity of the dies non 
juridicus, Saturday. It was carried by acclamation in the 
school ; so that you see we are alive." One of the pupils de- 
scribes a similar incident ; a case was to be adjourned, and 
Saturday seemed the most convenient time, " the counsel were 



anxious to argue it, but unwilling to resort to that extreme 
measure. J udge Story said — Gentlemen, the only time we can 
hear this case, is Saturday afternoon. This is dies 71 on, and 
no one is obliged or expected to attend. I am to hold Court 
in Boston until two o'clock. I will ride directly out, take a 
hasty dinner, and be here by half-past three o'clock, and hear 
the case, if you are willing. He looked round the school for a 
reply. We felt ashamed, in our own business in which we 
were alone interested, to be outdone in zeal and labor by this 
aged and distinguished man, to whom the case was but child's 
play, a tale twice told and ; who was himself pressed down by 
almost incredible labors. The proposal was unanimously ac- 
cepted." The same interesting communication describes the 
scene which took place when the Judge returned to Cambridge 
in the winter from Washington. " The school was the first 
place he visited after his own fireside. His return, always 
looked for, and known, filled the library. His reception was 
that of a returned father. He shook all by the hand, even 
the most obscure and indifferent ; and an hour or two was 
spent in the most exciting, instructive, and entertaining de- 
scriptions and anecdotes of the events of the term. Inquiries 
were put by the students from different States, as to leading 
counsel, or interesting causes from their section of the coun- 
try ; and he told us as one would have described to a company 
of squires and pages, a tournament of monarchs and nobles on 
fields of cloth of gold : — how Webster spoke in this case, Le- 
gare" or Clay, or Crittenden, General Jones, Choate or Spencer, 
in that ; with anecdotes of the cases and points, and all the 
currents of the heady fight." 

Judge Story's gracious and dignified demeanor upon the 


bench is too well known, and not closely enough connected 
with an account of his home life, to justify a description here. 
All who have spoken upon the subject, have borne witness to 
the kindness and courtesy with which he treated the bar, par- 
ticularly the younger members, who most need, and best ap- 
preciate such consideration. No lawyer was provoked by cap- 
tious remarks, or mortified by inattention or indifference, or 
that offensive assumption of superiority which places the 
counsel at such disadvantage with the judge, and lowers his 
credit with his clients and the spectators. With novices at the 
bar his manner was patient and encouraging, with the leaders 
whose position was nearly level with his own, attentive, cordial, 
at times even familiar, but always dignified. Among the 
prominent lawyers upon the Maine circuit, was his classmate 
iu college, and intimate friend, Hon. Stephen Longfellow, the 
father of the poet, of whom the following story is told. When 
any objection or qualification was started by the Court, to a 
point which he was pressing upon its attention, too courteous 
to question or oppose the opinion of the Judge, he would 
escape under this formula, " But there is this distinction, may 
it please your honor ; " which distinction, when it came to be 
stated, was often so exceedingly thin, that its existence could 
be discerned only by the learned gentleman himself. This little 
mannerism was known and observed among his friends in the 
profession, one of whom now living composed and passed round 
the bar this epitaph : " Here lies Stephen Longfellow, LL. D. 
Born &c. Died &c. With this Distinction. That such a man 
can never die." This epitaph reached the bench ; and Mr. 
Longfellow himself, who not long afterwards on an argument, 



was met by a question from the Judge. cc But, may it please 
your honor, there is this dis — " " Out with it, brother Long- 
fellow, " said Judge Story with a good-humored smile. But it 
would not come. The epitaph records the death of the dis- 

The interest which Judge Story felt in the prosperity of 
his University, was not wholly confined to the Law-school, 
with which he was immediately connected. He was one of the 
overseers of the College, and entered warmly and prominently 
into every question affecting the welfare of the Institution ; 
from an elaborate and recondite argument upon the meaning of 
the word " Fellows," in the charter of the college, — the doubt 
being, whether none but resident instructors were eligible as 
Fellows, or whether the word is merely synonymous with socius 
or associate, — down to a reform in the social observances of the 
students upon the occasion of what is called Glass Day. The 
old custom had been for the students on the last day of their 
meeting, before Commencement, to partake together of an un- 
defined quantity of punch from a large reservoir of that bever- 
age previously prepared. In more modern times, this habit 
came to be justly considered as subversive of sobriety and good 
order, and it was proposed to recast entirely the order of ex- 
ercises. Of this reform Judge Story was an advocate ; he was 
present at the first celebration under the new order of things, 
and was much gratified and elated at the change. Class Day 
is now the culminating point of the student's life — the exer- 
cises are an oration and poem in the morning, and a ball and 
reception in the afternoon and evening. More ladies visit the 
College on that day, than on any other, and the students have 



in lieu of their punch the less intoxicating recreation of a 

Judge Story was about five feet eight inches tall, not above 
the middle height, with a compact and solid figure, and active 
and rapid in his movements. He seldom, if ever, loitered 
along ; his customary gait was hasty and hurried, and he had 
a habit of casting quick eager glances about him as he moved. 
The expression of his face was animated and changing, his 
eyes were blue, his mouth large, his voice clear and flexible, 
and his laugh hearty and exhilarating. Late in life he was 
bald upon the top of his head, and his white hair below, and 
the benign expression of his countenance, gave him a dignified 
and venerable appearance, particularly when seated upon the 
bench. His personal habits were regular and systematic in 
the extreme. He never rose before seven, and was always in 
bed by half-past ten. His constitution required eight good 
hours of sleep, and he did not hesitate to gratify it in that 
particular. It was never intended that all men should rise at 
the same hour, and it is no great exercise of virtue on the part 
of those who do not enjoy sleep, to get up early. After break- 
fasting he read a newspaper for a half hour, and then worked 
faithfully, till called off to attend the lecture room or the court. 
After dinner he resumed his labors so long as daylight lasted, 
and the evening was devoted until bedtime to light reading, 
or social recreation in the midst of his family. He could pass 
easily from one species of employment to another without loss 
of time, and by working steadily when he did work, he was 
enabled to go through a very great amount of labor without 
any excessive fatigue or exhaustion. In this way his life was 



prolonged, and he retained to the last, undisturbed possession 
of all his faculties. He died in September 184."). at the age 
of sixty-six, having been for thirty-four years a Judge of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, and for sixteen years a 
Professor of law in the school at Cambridge. 

W H E A T N . 

AMONG the persons whom religious persecution compelled 
to leave England during the reign of Charles I., and seek 
an asylum in the new world, was Robert Wheaton, a Baptist 
clergyman. He first established himself in Salem, but when the 
intolerance of that community led those of his persuasion to 
remove elsewhere, he joined Roger Williams, and assisted him 
in founding the now flourishing State of Rhode Island. 

From him Henry Wheaton was descended. He was born 
in Providence, 1786, and entered Rhode Island College at tin- 
age of thirteen. He was already remarkable for bis love of 



reading, particularly in the branches of history and literature, 
and appears to have studied more from the pleasure he had iD 
the acquisition of knowledge, than from any love of distinc- 
tion. He graduated at the age of seventeen, and immediately 
after entered upon the study of the law, in compliance with 
his father's wishes rather than from personal inclination ; for 
at that period he is said not to have entertained any particu- 
lar leaning towards the legal profession. In 1806 he went 
abroad to complete his education. He passed some time at 
Poitiers, where he learned to speak and write French fluently, 
and had an opportunity of studying French law, and especial- 
ly the Code Napoleon, which had then but recently been pro- 
mulgated. He also attended the courts of justice, and heard 
some of the most distinguished lawyers of the time, of whose 
eloquence he often spoke in his letters to his family. He al- 
ways recurred with pleasure in later years to the time he pass- 
ed at Poitiers. The kindness he experienced from the family 
in which he lived, the graceful politeness and cheerfulness of 
the French character, gave him ever after a predilection in fa- 
vor of France. After spending a few weeks in Paris, he went 
to England, where he applied himself to the study of English 
law. He was often at the house of Mr. Monroe, then our Min- 
ister in London, who seems to have taken some pains to con- 
verse with him on the political and social state of Europe. 
Perhaps these conversations contributed to form his taste for 
diplomatic life, in which he was destined to play so distin- 
guished a part, and also to lead him in its course to show that 
willingness to impart information of a similar kind, to- the 
young men by whom he was himself surrounded, which was so 
pleasing a trait in his character. 



Soon after his return from Europe he was admitted to the 
bar in his native State, where he continued to practise lili 
1813. At that period, feeling the want of a wider field in 
which to exercise his talents, he determined, having previously 
married his cousin, the daughter of Dr. Wheaton of Provi- 
dence, to remove to New- York with his wife. We must not 
omit to mention, that before leaving Providence he pronoun- 
ced a Fourth of July Oration, in which he spoke with generous 
indignation of the bloody wars which then distracted Europe, 
and the disastrous consequences of which his residence in France 
had given him an opportunity to observe. But although thus 
warmly opposed to wars of conquest, there were cases in 
which he deemed resistance a sacred duty ; he therefore zeal- 
ously devoted his pen to encouraging his fellow-countrymen in 
resisting the unjust encroachments of England. During two 
years he edited the National Advocate, and the spirit as well 
as the fairness with which its leading articles were written, 
insured the success of the paper, and established his reputa- 
tion in New- York. At the same time he held the office of 
Justice of the Marine Court, and for a few months that also of 
Army Judge Advocate. In 1815 he returned to the practice 
of his profession, and published in the same year a Treatise on 
the Law of Maritime Captures and Prizes, which Mr. Reddie 
of Edinburgh has since pronounced to have been the best wi irk 
then published on the subject ; no small praise, if we consider 
that Mr. Wheaton was only thirty years of age at the time it 
was written. In 1816 he was named Reporter of the Supreme 
Court at Washington, and continued to hold this place until 
1827. The Reports, of which he published a volume yearly, 
and which were highly esteemed by American lawyers, were 


abridged without his consent soon after he went abroad. The 
publication of this abridgment occasioned a lawsuit, which 
ended only with his life. The following letter, for which we 
are indebted to the kindness of Professor Parsons, of the Law- 
school in Cambridge, will, we think, be read with interest. We 
must only remark, that it is an error to suppose that Mr. 
Wheaton shunned general society after he went to Europe ; 
he joined in it, on the contrary, more than is usual to men of 
his age in our country. 

Cambridge, May 22, 1853. 

" I am very glad to offer even a slight contribution to this 
memorial, of one so worthy of all respect as the late Mr. 
Wheaton. And you must permit me to express the hope that 
the sketch you now propose to make, will hereafter be expanded 
into that history of his life and exhibition of his character, 
which should be given to the world, in justice to him and to the 
very many to whom it would be most acceptable. I can speak 
of him from personal acquaintance, only after a long interval, 
when even recollections so pleasant as those of my intercourse 
with him have become somewhat dim. 

" It was at the very close of the year 1821, that I went to 
Washington, to pass some months there. The commissioners 
to distribute the money due to American citizens under the 
then recent treaty with Spain, began their sessions that win- 
ter. Mr. Webster was employed by most of the large claim- 
ants in New England, and I went with him to assist him gen- 
erally, and also charged by some of those claimants with the 
especial care of their interests. In New- York I became ac- 
quainted with Mr. Wheaton ; and he was with us during a 



part of the journey to Washington. As fellow-travellers, we 
became intimate, and during the whole of my stay in Wash 
ington, — nearly three months, — this intimacy was kept up. 
From many parts of the country, eminent lawyers were at 
Washington, in attendance upon the Supreme Court, or charg- 
ed with the care of cases before the commissioners under the 
Spanish treaty, and I was meeting them continually in so- 
ciety ; and I had the good fortune also to become acquainted 
with many of the most distinguished members of government 
and of Congress, and visited freely in the whole range — then 
less broad than now — of society in Washington. 

" Wherever I went I met Mr. Wheaton. Every where he 
was upon the footing, not of a received, but of a welcomed 
guest ; and he seemed to be most intimate in the best houses. 
It was easy to see the cause of this. His important position 
as Keporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the Unit- 
ed States — which office he had then held for six years — 
brought him into immediate contact not only with the judges 
of the court, but with all who practised in it ; and it might 
be supposed that with them he would be on terms of intimacy 
and friendship. But there was something in the character of 
that friendship, that no mere position explained ; and he in- 
spired an equally warm regard in many who never met him in 
his official duties. Among all his friends, if I were to name 
any persons, I think it would be Mr. Webster himself, who 
treated him as he might a brother ; Sir Stratford Canning, 
Minister from England, and M. de Neuville, the French Min- 
ister, who appeared to give tone and character to Washington 
society so far as any persons can influence elements so di- 
versified and refractory, and in whose houses he stood on the 


footing of a confidential friend ; Mr Lowndes of South Caro- 
lina, a most wise and excellent man ; and lastly and most of 
all, Chief Justice Marshall. Let me pause a moment to say- 
one word of this great and good man, to whose greatness and 
whose goodness, equally, this country is, and while its prosper- 
ity endures, will be indebted ; for his greatness rested upon 
his goodness as its foundation. Even his wide and accurate 
learning, his clear and close reasoning, his profound insight 
into the true merits and exact character and bearing of every 
question, and the unerring sagacity which enabled him to see 
the future in the present ; all these together, and whatever 
more there might have been of merely intellectual power, 
would not have enabled him to lay the foundations of our na- 
tional and constitutional jurisprudence w r ith the depth, breadth, 
and firmness, which all attacks upon them have, as yet, only 
made more apparent, if it had not been for his moral charac- 
ter. Here lay the inmost secret of his power. Men felt, and 
the nation felt, his incorruptibility ; meaning by this, not 
merely the absence of that baser and more obvious selfishness, 
which most men of decent self-respect overcome or suppress : 
but his perfect and manifest freedom from all motives and all 
influences whatever, which could tend to cloud or warp his 
understanding, or qualify the utterance of his wisdom. He 
did not stand before us a man of living ice, perfectly safe be- 
cause perfectly cold ; for he was affectionate and gentle as a 
child ; excitable even to enthusiasm, when that kind heart 
was touched; listening, not only with an equal strength to the 
strongest, but with a perfect sympathy to the eloquent, and 
with a charming courtesy to all. There he stood, and no one 
ever saw him and heard him, and did not know that his one 



wish was to do his great duty ; and that his admirable intel- 
lect came to its daily tasks, and did them, wholly free from all 
possible distortion or disturbance, not because he was strong 
enough to repel all the influences of party, or passion, or pre- 
judice, or interest, or personal favor, but because none of 
these things could come near enough to him to be repelled. 
By the happy constitution of his nature, there was no flaw in 
him to give entrance to any thing which could draw him one 
hair's breadth aside from the straight course of truth and jus- 
tice, and of the law, which in his mind was but their embodi- 
ment and voice. Of this good and great man there is as yet 
no adequate memorial ; and it would require a strong hand, 
and if not an equal, at least a sympathizing mind and heart, 
to construct one which shall indeed be adequate. But I in- 
dulge the hope that it will be given to us before the genera- 
tion which knew him shall pass wholly away. And you, I am 
sure, will pardon me for using this opportunity to render to 
his cherished memoiy this slight and evanescent tribute. I do 
but indulge myself in saying a part of what I have frequent 
occasion to say to the many students to whom it is my official 
duty to teach the law of their country as well as I can, and 
therefore to speak often of Marshall. 

"The Chief Justice treated Mr. Wheaton with the fondest 
regard, and this example would have had its influence had it 
been necessary ; but in fact the best men then in Washington 
were on the most intimate and confidential terms with him. 
The simple truth is, that universal respect was rendered to 
him because he deserved it. He was a gentleman : and 
therefore the same gentleman to all and under all circumstan- 
ces ; yes, he was indeed and emphatically a gentleman, and 


combined — with no base admixture — all the elements which 
go to compose what we mean, or should mean, by that word, 
as thoroughly as any one that I have ever known. 

" I did not meet him after leaving Washington until a short 
time before his death, and then not often. I saw very little 
change in his manner, for he appeared to be as glad as I was 
to revive the pleasant recollections of that distant winter. 
But I have been told that after he went abroad, he was con- 
sidered somewhat silent, and even disposed to avoid rather 
than seek general society. I cannot say how this was during 
those later years ; but when I knew him in Washington, no 
one more enjoyed society, and few sought it more, or were 
more sought by it. He was, — not perhaps gay, — but eminent- 
ly cheerful ; and his manner was characterized by that forget- 
fulness of self, which, as in great things, it forms the founda- 
tion for the highest excellence, so in the lesser matters of 
social intercourse it imparts a perpetual charm, and consti- 
tutes almost of itself, the essence of all true politeness. 

There was with Mr. Wheaton, no watching of opportunity 
for display ; no indifference and want of interest when the 
topics of conversation, or the parties, or other circumstances, 
made it impossible for him to occupy the foreground ; no skil- 
ful diversion of the conversation into paths which led to his 
strongholds, where he might come forth with peculiar advan- 
tage. Still less did he — as in this country so many do — play 
out in society the game of life, by using it only as a means of 
promoting his personal or professional objects. Certainly, one 
may sometimes help himself importantly in this way. Very 
useful acquaintances may thus be made and cultivated, who 
might be rather shy if directly approached. Facts may be 

W H E A T ON. 


learned, and opportunities for advancement early discovered, 
or effectually laid hold of, by one who circulates widely in a 
society like that in Washington, or indeed any where. Nor 
perhaps should it be a ground of Approach to any one, that in 
a reasonable way and to a reasonable extent, he seeks and cul- 
tivates society for this purpose. But, whatever may be the 
moral aspect of this matter, or whatever the degree in which con- 
duct of this kind is or is not justifiable, there was in Mr. Whea- 
ton's demeanor nothing of this ; nothing of it in appearance, 
because nothing of it in fact ; for one who is mainly, or in any 
considerable degree governed by a purpose of this kind, must 
be cunning indeed, to hide it effectually ; and cunning of any 
sort, was a quality of which he had none whatever. Every 
body felt and knew this : and therefore every body met him 
with a sense of confidence and repose, which of itself would go 
far in making any person more acceptable as a friend or as a 
mere companion, in a society of which the very surface con- 
stantly exhibited the many whirling under currents of Wash- 
ington life. In one word, there was in him nothing of trick : 
but that constant and perfect suavity which is the spontaneous 
expression of universal kindness ; and an excellent understand- 
ing, well and widely cultivated, and always ready to bring forth 
all its resources, not to help himself, but to help or gratify 
others, and all others with whom he came into contact, and 
all this, with no appearance of purpose or design of any kind ; 
for it was but the natural outpouring of mind and heart, of 
one who was open to the widest sympathy, and whose interest 
in all persons and things about him was most real and honest, 
because he loved nothing so well as to do all the good he could, 
by word or deed, or little or much, to one, or few, or many. 



He was therefore most popular in society. But when we speak 
of Mr. Wheaton's social popularity, we must be careful to use 
this word in a higher than its common sense ; and if I have 
made myself at all intelligible, I think you will understand 
both the cause and the character of that popularity. 

" And more than this I cannot say. Time has effaced from 
my memory details and especial circumstances ; nor can I 
therefore, by their help, illustrate this slight sketch of Mr. 
Wheaton's character and position, during those pleasant months 
which he helped so much to make pleasant. Of these par- 
ticulars, my recollection is dim enough. But no lapse of time 
will efface from my mind the clear and distinct recollection of 
the high excellence of his character, or the charms of his con- 
versation and manners ; nor shall I ever lose any portion of 
the affection and respect with which I regard his memory. 
" I am, very sincerely, 

" Your friend and obedient servant, 

" Theophilus Parsons." 

Cambridge, May 23, 1853. 

In 1821, Mr. Wheaton was elected a member of the Con- 
vention for revising the Constitution of the State of New- York, 
which having been formed amid the tumults and perils of war, 
seemed defective and insufficient to the wants of a richer, more 
enlightened, and more numerous society. In his sittings he 
turned his attention more particularly to the organization of the 
tribunals. In 1824, he was appointed by the New- York Legis- 
lature a member of the commission appointed to draw up the 
civil and criminal code of the State, a work in which he contin- 
ued to be engaged until 1827. It has been remarked that this 



was the first effort made by any State possessing the common 
law, to reduce its disconnected and diffusive legislation to the 
unity of a code, so that his name is thus connected with one of 
the most important landmarks in the history of American law. 

It may easily be imagined, that a person of so serious and 
thoughtful a disposition could not have failed at some period 
of his life, to tarn his attention to the important subject of 
religion. While in college, and during the ensuing years, lie 
had studied deeply the w r orks of the great English theologians, 
and when the Unitarian Church was established in New-York, 
he united himself with it. 

His other occupations did not prevent him from entering 
into literary pursuits. In 1820 he pronounced a discourse 
before the Historical Society of New- York, and in 1824, one 
at the opening of the New- York Athenaeum, both of which 
are considered to have unusual merit ; he was in the habit of 
contributing to the North American Review, and also trans- 
lated the Code Napoleon. Unfortunately, this manuscript 
and some other interesting papers were soon after destroyed by 
fire. In 1826 he published the life of William Pinkney, whom 
he had known in Washington, and for whom he had the high- 
est regard and admiration. This he afterwards abridged for 
Sparks' s American Biography. His familiarity with the French 
language, laws, and customs, led to an intimacy with most of 
the exiles whom the downfall of Napoleon brought to this coun- 
try. Count Real, the minister of police under the empire. 
Count Regnault, the most brilliant orator of that time, General 
Bernard and Prince Achille Murat, all considered him as a 
friend, and retained as long as they lived a warm recollection 
of the kind welcome they had found at his house. 



In 1827 he was appointed by President Adams, Charge 
<T Affaires to Denmark, and charged with negotiations the object 
of which was to obtain an indemnity for the American vessels 
seized during the last war between France and England. He 
embarked in July for England, where he had the satisfaction of 
again seeing the friends whose kindness had made his first visit 
to that country so pleasant, and also of meeting some of the 
most distinguished literary and legal characters of the day. 
Among the former, was Dr. Bowring, with whom he after- 
wards became intimate, and who was indeed one of the warm- 
est friends he had in Europe. 

Although the first few months passed in Copenhagen were 
not without the trials attendant on a removal to a foreign 
home, and in this instance were still more overshadowed by the 
news of his father's death, and by the illness and death of his 
wife's brother, who had gone with them, Mr. Wheaton soon 
became acclimated, formed pleasant acquaintances among his 
colleagues and among the Danes, who are remarkably kind and 
hospitable to foreigners, and availed himself of the resources 
the country offered to one of his tastes. The letter to Judge 
Story, of which we give a facsimile, will show his first impres- 
sions of Copenhagen. 

The climate of Denmark is damp like that of England, and 
its verdure quite as beautiful. Copenhagen is prettily situated, 
and contains as many objects of interest as any city of the size 
in Europe. It has fine palaces, a military and a naval acade- 
my, admirable hospitals, an extensive public library, a valuable 
collection of Northern antiquities, a good gallery of pictures, 
and fine public walks. The vicinity of the capital, although 
level, is highly cultivated, and affords a number of charming 



residences. The most pleasant of these are situated on the 
Strandvei, a road which runs along the shore of the Baltic to 
the Dyr-Hange, a fine park well stocked with deer, which is a 
favorite place of resort during the summer season to the Danes, 
who enjoy out-of-door life as much as the inhabitants of a 
Southern clime. Many of the houses which stand at intervals 
along the pleasant Strandvei are rented by their proprietors to 
foreigners. Of one of those occupied by Mr. Wheaton and his 
family, we .engrave a cut, from a view painted by an artist of 
the -country. It stood, and still stands, at some distance from 
the road, with a green lawn before it ,*and surrounded by lilacs, 
laburnums and beech-trees, whose white bark and light green 
leaves give a peculiar character to the scenery of Denmark. 
From the windows of the house the blue waves of the Baltic, 
studded with every variety of sail, may be seen, and in clear 
weather the opposite coast of Sweden is discernible. The road 
is enlivened by the brilliant equipages of the Royal family and 
nobility, by the Holstein-wagen, long open carriages which con- 
tain ten persons, two only being seated abreast, and much used 
for parties of pleasure, and by the women from the neighbor- 
ing fishing villages, with their green petticoats and red bod- 
dices, carrying large baskets of fish to the city. 

At the time of Mr. Wheaton's arrival in Denmark, Count 
Schimmelmann occupied the post of Minister of Foreign Af- 
fairs. This nobleman was possessed of great talents and worth, 
and for nearly thirty years was employed in the service of his 
government. Although a great part of his income was derived 
from his estates in the Danish West Indies, it was chiefly by 
his influence that the emancipation of the negroes was effected. 
He was a generous patron of art and science, and one of the 


earliest friends of Niebuhr. By such a man Mr. Wheat on 
could not fail to be appreciated ; and although the business 
transacted between them was of a delicate, and to the Danish 
government, which had been greatly impoverished by the war, 
of a trying nature, these meetings were always pleasant to 
both. The negotiations were terminated in 1831, by the 
signature of a convention, by which the American government 
obtained nearly all it had demanded. 

While thus engaged, Mr. Wheaton had not neglected the 
literary pursuits to which, in moments of leisure, he always 
turned with pleasure. He prepared himself by the study of 
the languages, literature, and history of Northern Europe, for 
writing a work which was published in London, in 1831, under 
the title of History of the Northmen. At that period, Scan- 
dinavia was a new, and almost untrodden field, but although 
much has since been added to the information we then pos- 
sessed respecting its history and antiquities, this work is still 
considered very valuable by those who take an interest in the 
subject to which it relates. It was translated into French in 
1842, and a new edition of it being desired in this country, 
Mr. Wheaton undertook the task of preparing it, but did not 
live to complete it. 

In the course of these studies he became acquainted with 
the most distinguished literary characters of Denmark, such as 
Bask, Rafn, Finn-Magnusen, the poet Ohlenschlager, Munter, 
Bishop of Zealand, and others. We must not omit to add 
Madame Frederika Brun, the sister of Munter, and herself 
a poetess of celebrity, whose splendid mansion in Copenhagen 
and charming country-seat of Fredericksdal, were for many 
years the resort of the most distinguished persons in Denmark. 



It was in 1835 that he bade adieu to the country where nine 
pleasant years had been passed, and where his amiable dispo- 
sition, high integrity and talents, had won him many friends. 
For more than a quarter of a century, our country had had no 
representative in Prussia ; but our increased trade with Ger- 
many rendering it important that we should renew our relations 
with that country, he was appointed by President Jackson, 
Minister Kesident to the court of Prussia. On his arrival in 
Berlin, his new colleagues took pleasure in pointing out to him 
the house which had been the residence of his predecessor, 
J ohn Quincy Adams, so long before. 

Mr. Ancillon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the 
descendant of a Huguenot family, who, after the revocation of 
the Edict of Nantes, sought an asylum in Germany, and is 
even better known as a philosophical writer and historian, than 
as a statesman. To him Mr. Wheat on presented his credentials, 
and as the King, Frederick William III., and his ministers, 
soon after left Berlin, according to custom, for the summer 
months, he devoted the interval to visiting the Rhenish provin- 
ces, in order to examine their resources and report to Govern- 
ment concerning them. During the ensuing summers he made 
excursions into different parts of Germany with the same object. 
In his private letters, he speaks with delight of the beauty and 
fertility of the country, to which historical associations gave 
additional charm in his eyes. In a dispatch, he says : " Having 
diligently explored every state and every province, compre- 
hended in the Customs- Association, with the view of studying 
their economical resources, I have been forcibly struck with the 
vast variety and rich productions with which Heaven has en- 
dowed this beautiful and highly favored land. Its fields teem 


with luxuriant harvests of grain and fruit, the hillsides are clad 
with vineyards yielding the most exquisite wines, the moun- 
tains contain inexhaustible treasures of useful minerals, whilst 
the valleys are filled with health-giving fountains of salubrious 
waters. When we add to these productions of nature and 
of agricultural labor, the vast variety of useful and ornamental 
fabrics, furnished by the persevering and patient industry of 
the German people, and their extensive consumption of the 
peculiar staple productions of the New World, we must be con- 
vinced of the great and increasing importance of the constituent 
elements of German commerce, of the valuable exchange it 
offers to the trade of other countries, and of the benefits which 
may be derived to our own country, from cultivating and ex- 
tending the commercial relations between the United States 
and Germany." 

In 1837, Mr. Wheaton was raised by President Van Buren 
to the rank of Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordi- 
nary ; and we cannot forbear remarking, that after the oppo- 
sition which — although never a violent party man — he had in 
previous years shown Mr. Van Buren, it is most honorable to 
the latter, that no feeling of rancor or pique, withheld him 
from making a nomination which he felt the public services of 
his former opponent to deserve. 

In 1836, he published, in England and in the United 
States, his cc Elements of International Law," and in 1846 re- 
published it in this country with numerous additions. In 1841 
he wrote in French, ■ Histoire du Progres clu Droit des Gens 
depuis la paix de Westphalie," which obtained a mention 
honorable from the French Institute. This work was published 
in French at Leipsic, 1844, and afterwards in New- York, un- 



der the title of " History of the Law of Nations." Competent 
judges have spoken of it as the best work of the kind ever 
written ; Mr. Keddie and Mr. Manning in Great Britain, Baron 
Gagern in Germany, and the enlightened and accomplished 
Minister of the King of Sardinia, Marquis d'Azeglio, have all 
awarded high praise to it. By diplomatists, it is considered 
an invaluable book of reference ; by British statesmen, it has 
several times been quoted in Parliament, and there can be no 
exaggeration in saying, that it has entitled the author to a 
lasting reputation in the Old World. 

In 1840, Mr. Wheaton had the misfortune to lose his eldest 
son, a lad of great promise, who died after a few days' illness 
in Paris, where he was at school. From that moment, all the 
father's hopes centred in Robert, his only remaining son. Of 
the latter, this is not the place to speak fully ; but we cannot 
forbear to say, that he lived long enough to realize the fondest 
anticipations of his parents, and that his early death, at the 
age of twenty-five years, will ever be a source of regret to all 
who knew him. He died on the 9th of October, 1851, only 
three years after his father. 

In 1843, he was made a corresponding member of the 
French Institute, in the section of Moral and Political Sciences. 
This nomination increased the pleasure he felt in visiting Paris, 
which he did, whenever his official duties would permit. In 
the literary and political circles of that great capital, he f ound 
the stimulus which every mind like his requires, and of which 
he felt the want in Berlin, where men of letters and savans 
do not mix in the court-circles, which his official position com- 
pelled him frequently to attend. He knew most of the eminent 
statesmen and politicians of France ; he was particularly well 



acquainted with M. Guizot, for whose character and talents 
he entertained the highest respect, and with M. Thiers, the 
charm of whose conversation he admired no less than his works. 
He also enjoyed the opportunity he had in Paris of meeting 
his countrymen, of whom comparatively few visited Berlin. 
Nor did he neglect when there, to transmit to Government 
such information respecting the general state of Europe, as 
his long residence abroad, and his relations with the leading 
men in several of its countries, enabled him to collect. In the 
ten years during which his mission to Berlin lasted, scarcely a 
week elapsed without his addressing a dispatch to Government. 
These dispatches are extremely interesting, both from the va- 
riety and extent of information they contain concerning the 
political and commercial state of Prussia, and the picture they 
present of Europe and of European governments, and, if ever 
published, will form a valuable addition to the history of 
American and European diplomacy. 

In many respects, Mr. Wheaton was peculiarly well qualified 
for diplomatic life. His knowledge of international law, the 
soundness of his judgment, the calmness and impartiality with 
which he could look at the different sides of a question, his 
gentle and forbearing disposition, his amiable and conciliating 
manners, were all in his favor. To these advantages, he added 
the purest integrity, and the highest sense of the duties and 
responsibilities attached to the profession he so long followed. 
In the speech made at the public dinner offered him in New- 
York, on his return to his native country after an absence of 
twenty years, he said, and this was the true expression of his 
feelings on the subject : " You will excuse me for remarking 
that the mission of a diplomatic agent is, or ought to be, a 



mission of peace and conciliation ; and that nothing can he 
further removed from its true nature and dignity, than intrigue, 
craft, and duplicity ; qualities too often, hut in my opinion, er- 
roneously, attributed to the diplomatic character. At least, it 
may I believe be confidently asserted, that the ablest public min- 
isters, and those who have most effectually advanced the honor 
and interest of their country, have been those who were distin- 
guished for frankness, directness, and a strict regard to truth." 

The amount of business which devolved on him during hit 
mission to Berlin, independent of the negotiations for a com- 
mercial treaty with the German Customs-Union or Zollverein, 
can hardly be estimated by reading his dispatches only. Not 
a week elapsed without his receiving letters from different parts 
of Germany and the United States, asking for advice with re- 
gard to emigration, or to the disposition of property left by 
friends in America or in Germany, and all requiring immedi- 
ate attention. But notwithstanding these demands upon his 
time, he did not neglect the pursuits of literature. In 1838 
he published, jointly with Dr. Crichton, the volumes entitled 
" Scandinavia/' which form a portion of the Edinburgh Family 
Library ; and in 1842, and the succeeding years, wrote a 
number of interesting letters addressed to the National Insti- 
tute at Washington, which were published in the columns of 
the National Intelligencer. 

In 1844, he was named Member of the Academy of Sciences 
at Berlin, and we must not omit to mention, that he was the 
only foreign diplomat to whom the honor had then been award- 
ed. With Kaumer and Kanke, with Ritter, the celebrated 
geographer, Encke, the astronomer, he was of course acquaint- 
ed ; Savigny, Gans, and Eichorn, he knew well ; and with 


Alexander von Humboldt he was on the most friendly and 
familiar terms. Count Raczynski, whose work on " Modern 
Art/' has made his name known in this country, and whose 
fine gallery is to amateurs of painting one of the chief objects 
of interest in Berlin, was also his intimate friend. With 
Bunsen, one of the most agreeable as well as intellectual men 
in Germany, whose diplomatic duties kept him absent from 
Berlin, he passed many delightful hours in Switzerland, and 
in London. All his colleagues in Berlin met him on the most 
friendly terms ; but the Russian, French and English ministers 
were those whose company he most enjoyed, and who perhaps 
entertained for him the most cordial friendship. The two latter 
gave him their entire cofidence, often showing him their dis- 
patches, and freely discussing with him the interests of their 
respective governments. 

It was in the spring of 1844, that the negotiations with 
the Zollverein, with which Mr. Wheaton had been charged, 
and winch the various interests of the nineteen different states 
which it then included, had protracted, drew to a close. On 
the 25th of March he signed a convention with Baron Bulow, 
the Prussian Minister of Foreign Affairs, of whose enlightened 
and liberal views he always spoke in high terms. This treaty, 
to the accomplishment of which he had devoted all his energies 
during several years, and which he fondly, hoped would prove 
satisfactory to Government and the country, was rejected by 
the Senate. It is hardly necessary to say, that he felt this 
disappointment deeply. 

In 1846, he was recalled by President Polk, and on the 
22d July had his farewell audience of the King of Prussia, 
by whom he had always been treated with marked distinction 

W H E A T ON. 


and courtesy. He went to Paris to pass the ensuing winter, 
during which he read to the Academy of Sciences a paper on 
the Schleswig-Holstein question, which is still unpublished 
In May, 1847, he returned to his native land. A public din- 
ner, to which we have already alluded, was given him in 
New- York, where so much of his early life had been spent, 
and where he had first distinguished himself ; a dinner was 
also offered him in Philadelphia, but this, circumstances com- 
pelled him to decline. The city of Providence requested him 
to sit for his portrait, to be placed in the hall of the City 
Council, " as a memorial of one who shed so much honor on the 
place of his nativity/'' It is interesting to mark the contrast 
between this portrait, which was painted by Healy, and one 
painted by Jarvis nearly thirty years before. Though the 
countenance has lost something of the animation of youth, and 
the eyes have no longer the fire which flashes from the portrait 
of Jarvis, the head has gained in intellectual expression, and 
the brow wears that air of thoughtful repose, the mouth that 
pleasant smile, familiar to those who knew him in his later 

In September, 1847, he delivered an address in Providence, 
before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the subject of which was 
the Progress and Prospects of Germany. This was the last 
public occasion on which his voice was heard. The chair of 
International Law at Harvard University, to which he had 
been called, on his return home, he never lived to fill. His 
health gradually failed, and on the 11th of March, 1848, he 
breathed his last.